If you have a fire or water emergency, please call us now at (908) 233-7070

To have the optimal experience while using this site, you will need to update your browser. You may want to try one of the following alternatives:

Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Archived Blog Posts

Ways You Can Prevent Mold Growth After Water Damage

9/6/2018 (Permalink)

Water damage is difficult for home and business owners—not only because of the structural damage it can cause but also because of the unique health hazards and risks it can present.

One of the most dangerous of these risks is mold growth. The CDC has many negative symptoms associated with mold exposure that are well-documented, and the problem is exacerbated because of how quickly mold can begin growing.

Here are the steps you can take to stop mold from taking hold if your home has been affected by water damage:

Before You Get Started

  • Do not attempt to re-enter your building until officials have deemed it safe and are positive all water has receded.
  • Take photos and videos of damage throughout—making sure to include damage done to furniture and walls—for insurance claim purposes.

Drying Should Begin Right Away

  • Set up as many fans, dehumidifiers and heaters as possible to speed up drying time.
  • Begin vacuuming with a heavy-duty, outdoor vacuum before the cleanup crew arrives.
  • Weather permitting, open windows and doors to maximize airflow for as long as possible.

Items Exposed to Water Should Be Sorted

  • Metal, plastic glass and other non-porous materials can often be cleaned, disinfected and reused.
  • Porous materials exposed to water damage, such as wood, upholstery and paper of any kind, can trap mold and should be discarded.
  • It is important to note that drying carpet will not necessarily remove mold spores if they’ve already begun to grow.

A Professional Should Always Be Consulted

In some cases, carpets can be salvaged after water damage. However, most experts will recommend replacing the carpet pad at a minimum.

Mold is incorrectly associated with discolorations and foul odors when the reality is that mold can often lurk unnoticed long before it is visible. Replacing the carpet pad is significantly less costly than a full re-carpeting of the home, but only a professional can determine if this is adequate enough to prevent mold from spreading.

If you’re worried about cleanup associated with water damage and mold growth, SERVPRO® of Central Union County can help you restore your home and remediate any mold issues you may have.

IICRC Certified Firm

9/5/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Central Union County is an IICRC firm. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) creates the standards for the restoration industry and provides training and certification to restoration companies. IICRC Certified Firms have the right to display the IICRC Certified Logo.

IICRC Certified Firms must
• Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.

  • Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.
  • Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.
  • Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.
  • Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.

The IICRC Develops the Standards for The Restoration Industry
The IICRC has been the driving force in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet cleaning, water damage restoration and mold remediation. These IICRC standards take years to develop and require the coordination of experts in the field: manufacturers, industry organizations, insurance professionals, training schools, contractors, and public health professionals.

Every five years, the standards are reviewed and updated. The water damage restoration field changes rapidly with advancements in technology and science, and therefore the standards must evolve to keep pace.

About SERVPRO of Central Union County
SERVPRO of Central Union County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration and we are an IICRC Certified Firm. We believe in continuous training: from initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property

Is Your Business Ready?

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Preparation is a vital component for making it through a disaster, whether it's a small water leak, a large fire or an area flood. The best time to plan for these events is well before they happen. No one ever plans a disaster, but you can plan for it. Now is the time to ask yourself and fellow employees, "Are you Ready for whatever happens?"

SERVPRO of Central Union County offers the Emergency Ready Profile as a startup approach that provides the important information needed to begin mitigation and recovery services. It was created to help as a quick reference guide of the buildings most important information.

The SERVPRO Emergency Ready Profile Advantage:

  • A NO COST assessment of your facility
    • This means you do not need to appropriate any funds, giving you a great value at no cost.
  • A Compact Profile Document that contains only the important information needed in the event of an emergency.
    • It will only take a short time to complete and will not take you away from current projects. Most importantly it will save you a lot of time if ever needed
  • A guide to help you get back into your building after a disaster.
    • This can help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan of action
  • Establishes SERVPRO of Central Union County as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider.
    • You have a provider that is recognized as an industry leader close by.
  • Identification of the line of command for authorizing work to begin.
    • This saves time, so we can begin the work of mitigating the damage which can save you time and money.
  • Provides facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas, and priority contact information.
    • Having quick reference guide provides solutions in the advance of a disaster, so that during a disaster you are "Ready for whatever happens."

Call Today to Get Started!

                         (908) 233-7070

SERVPRO Is Ready For Any Storm

8/30/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Central Union County specializes in storm and flood damage restoration.  Our crews are highly trained, and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit Central Union County, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,650 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.

Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today at (908) 233-7070

Fire Damage Specialists

8/29/2018 (Permalink)

Fire damage to your home can be a traumatic experience for any homeowner.  Apart from the damage due to heat, fire can cause significant damage to your property and belongings due to smoke and soot.  The smoke particles can coat walls, ceilings, and almost any surface and cause permanent damage if not cleaned quickly and efficiently.

The particles in the smoke contain unburned carbon that can be very difficult to remove after a fire to your Central Union home. Not all soot particles are alike, and it takes a multi-step process to eliminate them.  It is a job for the professionals who have years of training and expertise in fire damage restoration. 

We’re Fire and Water Damage Specialists

As fire and water restoration specialists, we have the training, experience and specialized equipment necessary to restore your home or business. We are committed to providing superior service while restoring your property back to pre-fire condition.

  • Fire & Smoke Restoration Technician
  • Odor Control Technician
  • Upholstery & Fabric Cleaning Technician
  • Water Damage Restoration Technician

Call SERVPRO of Central Union County/ (908) 233-7070

How to Handle Storm Damage

8/28/2018 (Permalink)

When storm damage hits Central Union County homes and businesses, it's important to know what to do until SERVPRO crews get on site.

  • Call SERVPRO of Central Union County at (908) 233-7070 immediately upon discovering damage.
  • Shut off the source of water (ie: replace sump pump) or contact a qualified party to stop the water source.
  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.  Use a shop vac or carpet cleaning machine to suck water from carpets.  Do Not use a household vacuum cleaner.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
  • Remove electronics, documents, sensitive or valuable items to a dry place.
  • Use wooden clothespins to keep furniture skirting and window curtains off damp floors.
  • Pull carpet back from the walls to limit water wicking into the drywall.

Don't forget that when storm damage strikes, SERVPRO of Central Union County is here to help.

Fire Cleanup

8/8/2018 (Permalink)

If your home has a smoke/soot issue, call SERVPRO of Central Union County today at 908-233-7070. Don't attempt to clean anything as it could make it an irreversible event. 

After any fire damage situation, your primary focus should be safety first:

  • Is it safe to stay in the house?
  • Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
  • Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
  • Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!

Have Smoke or Fire Damage? Call (908) 233-7070

What to Do After a Fire

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
  • Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open.
  • Clean and protect chrome with light coating of petroleum jelly or oil.
  • Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
  • Change HVAC filter.

What NOT to Do After a Fire

  • Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting us.
  • Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
  • Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.

Water Heaters

8/8/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Central Union County has seen countless water heaters cause damage inside homes. A water heater’s useful life varies, depending on the type of water heater, the quality of the unit, and how well it’s been maintained. As long as it’s still heating water sufficiently, without leaks or strange noises, you might still get a few more years of service from it.

A traditional tank-type water has a life span of around 8 to 12 years. An anode rod protects the interior lining by attracting all corrosive particles through a process called electrolysis. When the rod is no longer capable of doing its job. Those particles settle at the bottom of the water tank. This eventually destroys the lining.

A tankless water heater (also called “on-demand” water heaters) can last you up to 20 years, sometimes even more. These water heaters do not continuously work to maintain a supply of hot water, which makes it last longer. Eventually, tankless water heaters will also suffer from corrosion and require replacement.

Make sure to watch for warning signs once your water heater hits it’s second half of life. Some warning signs can be a banging or rumbling noise, tinted hot water, a drop of temperature water, or water pooling around the base of the heater tank can also suggest bad news.

Source: www.bobvila.com

5 Tips to Help Your Home Stand Up to a Flood

8/8/2018 (Permalink)

  1. Close foundation cracks with mortar and masonry caulk or hydraulic cement, which expands and fills gaps completely and costs only a few dollars. Don’t patch solely with mortar or cement, which may crack again. If water is a recurring problem, be sure to investigate other solutions for issues like wet basements.
  2. Invest in a battery-powered sump pump. Sump pumps let you pump water out of your home and can be an excellent defense against flooding — unless they’re powered by electricity and the power is out. Battery-powered sump pumps are a relatively inexpensive ($150-$400) solution.
  3. Move expensive items to a safer location. If you have a second floor or an attic, moving furniture, photographs, and artwork to a higher level will protect your possessions in all but the most severe floods. Elevate furnaces and water pumps when they’re installed, if possible, to a height of 12 inches above the highest known flood level for your area, suggests FEMA.
  4. Anchor your fuel tanks. Unanchored tanks can float, rupture, and release fuel. Once the power sources of system units like furnaces and water heaters are disabled and the units cooled, you can also wrap them in waterproof tarps to mitigate water damage.
  5. Install sewer or septic line check valves. They allow waste to flow only one way. Plan to spend $100 or more per valve to have a pro install them or do it yourself for $10-$15 each to ensure sewage can’t back up into the standing water in your home. Install at a point in the pipe that’s easy to access for repair.

Source: www.houselogic.com

Help Your Fire Department Help you

7/31/2018 (Permalink)

Who better to give you tips on fire safety than firefighters themselves?

  • Always practice fire drills- Fire drills shouldn’t stop at your job or at school. They are important for families too. Have an escape plan and review emergency exists in your home. Your family should practice crawling low on hands and knees through the emergency exists.
  • Make sure street numbers are visible – Fire fighters and first responders need to find where you live quickly. House numbers should be at least four inches tall, visible from the street. Remember that fire fighters sit higher in their vehicles than drivers of regular automobiles.
  • Inspect your extension cords- Extension cords can take a good beating overtime, and damaged ones pose a fire hazard. Make sure to inspect your extension cords and discard and that get hot with use. If their cord or outlet strip looks damaged, throw it away immediately.
  • Prevent false alarms- False alarms can cost fire fighters valuable time and money. Make sure your fire alarm system is installed by a licensed professional. It is important to test your fire alarm system monthly, and keep it clean of dust and debris.
  • Use proper fuel for your fireplace- Never burn trash or paper in the fireplace. Tiny particles of ignited paper can float up your chimney then onto the roof and into the yard, posing a severe fire risk.
  • Get the right extinguisher and learn how to use it- Fire fighters recommend a 2-1/2 pound class ABC multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher for your home. This model can be used to put out many types of fire, including those involving wood, paper, plastics, liquids, electric appliances, or outlets. Review the operating instructions for each fire extinguisher you have. Pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze and hold down the handle, and sweep from side to side and front to back.

Source: www.bobvila.com

What You Need to Know About Fire Extinguishers

7/31/2018 (Permalink)

One important fact that homeowners need to know about fire extinguishers is that they do in fact expire. Fire extinguishers last between 5 and 15 years but they all ultimately expire and become ineffective, no matter what fire-fighting substance they contain. Household fire extinguishers are typically filled with dry chemicals (carbon dioxide or halon) and can lose their charge over time. Extinguishers with compressed gas can leak contents slowly as their seals weaken, while those with ammonium phosphate will solidify over the years, becoming unusable.

                Some units can be professionally recharged. Check the expiration of the original charge, read on to get a handle on the age and effectiveness of your fire extinguisher. Locate the paper tag on the fire extinguisher. It may not imply an expiration date, but if the oldest date on that was more than 10 years ago, it may already have lost its ability to fight flames.

                Additionally, homeowners should inspect the pressure gauge at the top. If the needle is within the green area, it should still work fine. A needle in the red or white area indicates that it requires service. Older models usually have no gauge, which means it would be wise to take it to a professional for testing and, if necessary (and possible), recharging.  A professional recharge typically runs between $15 and $20, a bargain compared to a new extinguisher, which will likely cost $100 to $200.

                Store a fire extinguisher in a clean, indoor location can help extend its life. Exposure to sun, UV radiation, wind, or rain can cause corrosion, rust, and deterioration. Excessively dusty or dirty environments can hamper the device’s ability to function properly. If the canister is dented or bruised, or if the tamper seal and pin are missing, there’s a possibility that it might explode unprompted. Examine the entire unit and if it’s not in good shape, properly dispose of it without delay.

Source: www.bobvila.com

What To Expect When You Are Expecting A Contractor

7/31/2018 (Permalink)

Looking for a commercial or residential construction company can be exhausting. You want to ensure that whoever you hire is the best company for the job at hand.

Know What You Want

As the client, you are the one driving the process. Before speaking with Contractors, spend time thinking about your goals for the project -- what it might look like, the amenities you want, and so on. If you don't know how to translate your goals into specific features or products, hire a design-build firm that can offer that service too.

Why Contractor Quotes Vary Drastically

Contractors cannot offer a correct fixed price because there are too many unknowns about the job, so try to eliminate as many of the unknowns as possible. For example, have them open up a wall to examine the skeleton of your house where the add-ons would happen.

Request to define the project specs to include only what he expects to do with the mutual understanding that if additional work is needed, you will get a change order — a written mini-bid for new work after the project has been started. This is common in the construction industry and it is the reason quotes vary by thousands of dollars. The cheapest quote also means they are not being conscientious of the realities that may come later to blow your budget when you were not prepared for unexpected expense(s).

Costs for all of the various elements of the job should include:

  • Demolition and hauling trash
  • Framing
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical work
  • HVAC
  • Tiling and floor covering installations
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Drywall and painting
  • Finish carpentry
  • Clean up

Contractors will often give you a fixed bid, but some work may be on a "cost plus" basis, charging you for materials, time/labor, and an administrative or overhead fee for their time managing those aspect of your project. “Cost plus” is sometimes a legitimate alternative, but it should have a cap or some provision to contain cost overruns that exceed your max budget.

Reputation Has More Value Than Price
Reputable and therefore trustworthy Contractors in trade locally for five or ten years will have an established network of subcontractors and suppliers in the area and a local reputation to uphold. That makes them a safer choice.

Ask for a business card with a real street address, not just a post office box, and get references from one or two early projects and some current customers. This will help you verify consistency and honor.

You should also vet their background by verifying their credentials and insist on a detailed contract before making a hiring decision.

Personality Is Prettier Than Price

You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this contractor, so when you make your decision, think about whether you feel comfortable with their personality, background, methods, and communication skills. Is everyone clear about the project at hand and on the same page? If not, you could end up disappointed, frustrated, and possibly out several thousand dollars beyond what you budgeted for.

Set Job Site Boundaries

Let the company know you expect routine precautions. Also, establish some ground rules about parking, bathroom use, smoking, and other issues that might concern you.

Have A Resolution Strategy

Any contractor you hire will become part of your life for at least the duration of the project. Make sure you pick someone with whom you can communicate, and trust your gut if first impressions leave you feeling uneasy. Reputable professionals will insist on clear written agreements in order to protect both parties.

During initial meetings, ask how unexpected issues or differences might be handled. This can include change orders (these should always be in writing, with cost issues directly noted) or more serious disputes, such as unintended damage or a failure to meet legal or reasonable standards.

The Importance of Cleaning Your Gutters

7/31/2018 (Permalink)

We are in the middle of summer, and that means there are many projects around the home demanding your attention. One thing that often goes overlooked is your gutters.

Gutter cleaning is an integral part of maintaining your home during this summer. At SERVPRO of Central Union County, we know gutter cleaning is probably at the bottom of your list of things you want to think about.

The problem is, many homeowners wait to get their gutters cleaned until they notice a problem, or so much debris has collected the gutter is tearing from the roof. Unfortunately, this is like waiting to lower your cholesterol until you have a heart attack.

Clogged gutters can wreak havoc with the natural drainage of water away from your home. This can result in damage to fascia, soffit, roofing, or even begin leaking into your home. Additionally, water damage can ruin the very foundation of your home – something you NEVER want to happen.

Looking for Cleaning your home in New Jersey? Contact SERVPRO of Central Union County for cleaning all your home including the gutters.

Why Choose a NADCA Certified Company for Your Commercial Property

7/27/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Central Union County is a proud certified NADCA member. As a NADCA certified company, we assure that your commercial property is treated with proper and safe techniques required during HVAC inspection, cleaning and restoration procedures. We maintain this certification with Continuing Education Credits each year. The certified members in our company have significant knowledge of the tools and equipment that are necessary for each job. Please be advised that sadly there are air duct cleaning companies that illegally use the NADCA logo or claim to be NADCA members when they are not. To ensure that the company you hire is indeed a NADCA member, look the company up in NADCA's Find a Professional Directory or contact NADCA Headquarters to verify membership. NADCA provides certificates to each of its members which list the company’s name and when their membership expires. Let SERVPRO of Western Essex County be your first choice for your business!

Commercial Services

7/27/2018 (Permalink)

When it comes to your commercial property, we mean business. You need a company that can minimize the disruption to your clients while delivering superior results. Whether you need professional cleaning to make your business shine, or emergency water restoration services, SERVPRO of Central Union County has the training and expertise to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

  • Small Office Buildings
  • Large Office/High-Rise Office Buildings
  • Apartment Buildings
  • Restaurants
  • Hotel/Motels
  • Small Retail Stores
  • Large Retail/Big-Box Stores
  • High-Rise Residential
  • Manufacturing & Industrial
  • Government/Military

Commercial Building Cleaning Services

Whether your need is removing an odor problem or deep-cleaning flooring or carpets, you can depend on SERVPRO of Central Union County to get the job done right the first time. We’ll respond promptly and make your work space look its very best. Learn more about our commercial cleaning services.

Commercial Building Restoration Services

SERVPRO of Central Union County is available 24 hours a day to restore your property and get you back to business. We have the expertise, equipment, and highly trained personnel to handle your commercial water, fire, or mold damage. We can also access the resources of our national network of 1,700 Franchises to handle large commercial projects and major storm events. Learn more about our commercial restoration services.

Give us a call we can help

(908) 233-7070

Types of Insulation (Pros and Cons)

7/26/2018 (Permalink)

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to home insulation. All homes are created differently. There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right insulation for your home including climate, installation, cost, and product performance. It is also important to consider a product’s thermal performance rating. This is known as the R-value.

  • Fiberglass- This is by the far the most commonly used insulation. It usually comes in rolls pre-sized to fit between standard joists and studs. Fiberglass has been the go-to choice for new construction for both DIY homeowners and professionals. Not to mentioned it is relatively affordable.
  • Mineral Wool- This is a definite DIY installation as this tends to hold shape well. It is composed of recycled materials and has fire-retardant properties. Mineral wool is also known as rock wool or slag wool.
  • Loose Fill- For filling nooks and crannies in your attics, your best bet may be to use a loose-fill insulation. This is composed of fiberglass or cellulose. This product is blown into place with a special machine and does a great job of filling gaps. On the down side, there have been some reports that it can compress overtime, losing effectiveness. Also, keep in mind that for some attics or roof structures, cellulose may be too heavy.
  • Spray Foam- This formula offers a high R-value and can fit in just about any tight space when it dries hard, providing a cozy home. This option of insulation is a bit more expensive than other types and does require the help of professionals, but it can cut down on other weatherizing tasks, such as caulking.
  • Rigid Foam- These rigid foam panels are commonly made of polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, or polyurethane. It helps slow heat transfer through structural elements like studs. It is more expensive than batt and blanket insulation, and hard to fit into awkward corners.
  • Structural Insulated Panels(SIPs)- These panels are airtight structural elements that help with noise reduction and can provide energy savings up to 14%. They can be installed in walls, ceilings and floors. They are on the pricier side and are used mostly for new construction.
  • Radiant Barriers and Reflective Systems- This type of insulation system has highly reflective materials which helps reflect heat away from the house. They are installed on the underside of a roof and reduce radiant heat transfer from the sun, reducing cooling costs for your home.

Source: www.bobvila.com

Surprising places Where Mold Hides in Your Home

7/26/2018 (Permalink)

  1. Beneath Your Sink- Mold tends to thrive in warm, moist, and dark environments, just like your kitchen your bathroom sink. You should check these areas for condensation or any plumbing leaks. Wipe down the interior of the cabinet with a bleach-based solution to prevent mold from spreading.
  2. Inside Your Toothbrush Holder- Your glass or ceramic container may be the perfect spot to store your tooth brush, but it is also leaves room for mold to grow inside. It thrives on the water that drips from your tooth brush into the container. Make sure to rinse and dry your holder on a regular basis to prevent mold from growing.
  3. Filing Cabinets- Remember, paper is made of wood pulp, which mold love to feast on. Let’s say your house has experienced water damage or high humidity- the paper files could become damp leaving behind a mold feeding frenzy. Contaminated paper can be difficult to stop permanent damage to your files. Be cautious about storing items in damp boxes, attics, or basements, and opt in for a dehumidifier in your home.
  4. Toys- Have kids? Small children put everything in their mouths. Toys can accumulate bacteria and moisture, making them prone to mold growth. Give the toys a regular trip to the dishwasher or washing machine to keep mold at bay.
  5. Appliances Seals and Drip Pans- Where there is moisture, there can be mold! The seals, coils, and drip pans on many household appliances retain moisture, which makes it a perfect hangout spot for mold. Try to regularly clean these hidden spots to prevent mold growth.
  6. Carpets and Upholstery- Drapes, curtains, upholstery, and carpeting trap a lot of dirt, skin cells, and dust, which are all food for mold spores. And of course, with mishaps like spills or plumbing leaks, you have yourself the perfect breeding ground for mold. Vacuuming regularly, washing with mold-inhibiting cleaning solutions, and drying carpets or upholstery thoroughly after a spill can help prevent mold infestation.
  7. Plumbing and Ductwork- To prevent mold growth on plumbing and ductwork, reduce indoor humidity levels to between 30 and 50 percent by weatherizing your home, fixing leaks, and running a dehumidifier. You can also try installing an ultraviolet lighting system that will destroy mold spores as air passes through the ducts.
  8. Around Boilers and Water Heaters- Very commonly, boilers and water heaters typically have drains to rid of excess moisture and condensation that builds up during normal operation. These drains can become clogged or rusted, inhibiting liquid from being properly removed. This can encourage mold growth on the walls, floors, and even the air. Regularly clean your HVAC units drains to ensure that they are working properly.

Source: www.bobvila.com

Myths about Mold

7/26/2018 (Permalink)

Myth #1: Mold only grows om paper, wood, and other organic material

  • The truth of the matter is, mold will grow on just about any surface. Glass, fiberglass, and steel are no exception.
  • Mold spores are always in the air, and as long as there is moisture and particulate matter such as dust, mold can grow.
  • The only effective way to control mold is to control the moisture
  • Try installing dehumidifiers and fans in basements and kitchens,

Myth #2: Water intrusion is inevitable

  • Being aware of any leaks around your house, like bathroom faucets, showers and toilets can easily help prevent water intrusion.
  • Homeowners are urged to stay alert for signs of mold, including dampness, odors, discoloration, peeling paint, condensation, and mold outbreaks.
  • Be on the lookout for slightly furry, discolored, or slimy patches that grow over time.

Myth #3: Mold is the only problem associated with water and mildew intrusion

  • Mold, insects, and other pests enjoy damp environments. Dampness can also damage crucial building materials, such as your home’s foundation.
  • Make sure you find where the water and mildew are entering and find measures to prevent it.
  • If your building materials are already damp or mold-infested, replace them with dry alternatives immediately.

Source: www.bobvila.com

Air Conditioning Mistakes that Spike your Bills

7/24/2018 (Permalink)

Air Conditioning Mistakes that Spike your Bills

Today, more than 90% of homes and nearly all business use air conditioning to beat the summer heat. Most people think they know how to maintain their system properly, whether it’s central air, a window unit, or ductless mini-splits. Many homeowners fall victim to common mistakes that waste energy, shorten the working lifespan of their air conditioner, and cost money.

  • Buying the wrong system- Try to use an air conditioner that’s correctly sized for your home. An oversized unit may cycle on and off too quickly. This will result in ineffectively removing humidity and will not maintain uniform temperatures. On the other hand, a too-small unit will need to run constantly, which will ultimately shorten the lifespan drastically. Consideration each room’s square footage, layout, insulation and function.
  • Cooling an empty room- Upgrade to a programmable thermostat to avoid wasting both money and energy on cooling an empty house. This technology allows you to raise and lower the temperature of your AC based on preset schedule. This can save you hundreds of dollars annually. Do you have unoccupied rooms? Boost your energy efficiency by closing vents in those rooms as well as keeping closet and cabinet door shut so excess air doesn’t get in.
  • Putting the AC unit in direct sunlight- We all know air conditioners aren’t the most attractive items in a landscape, but homeowners shouldn’t try to “hide” the unit in an inopportune spot. The location of an air conditioner has a great impact on its energy efficiency. Try installing it in a shady spot. Too much direct sunlight will make the system work harder. Also, do not place plants or shrubs too close to the unit, as these will impede ventilation causing the condenser coils to clog.
  • Poorly positioning the thermostat and vents- Thermostats should be properly positioned for accuracy reasons. Placing the thermostat in direct sunlight or near heat-producing lights gives an inaccurate reading, causing the air conditioner to work overtime. Also, make sure not to block vents with furniture or curtains as this will inhibit proper air circulation.
  • Setting the thermostat too low- Homeowners have a bad habit of setting their thermostat much lower than needed. Adjusting to a higher setting will cut your AC cost around 3% for every degree you raise the temperature.
  • Not cleaning the coils- Out door condensers and evaporator coils should always be well maintained. Condensers and coils can clog up with dirt, which blocks airflow and insulates the coils, reducing their ability to manage heat efficiently. Try not to place your AC components near dryer vents. Remove fallen leaves, grass clippings, and other debris to prevent clogging.

Source: www.bobvila.com

Common Causes and Signs of Water Damage

7/24/2018 (Permalink)

One of the most probable, and costly, setbacks your home can suffer is water damage. Homeowners and renters across the country lose billions of dollars because of it each year. It can occur at any time. There are a handful of situations that can cause water damage in a home:

  • Problems with your HVAC system.
  • Cracks in your foundation or walls.
  • Severe storms, floods and other extreme weather.
  • Leaky or burst pipes.
  • Malfunctioning dishwashers or washing machines.
  • Roof damage, such as missing shingles or cracked flashing.
  • Drainage problems on your property.

Water damage is recognizable when it’s caused by a flood, but other causes are harder to spot. If you are unsure of what to look for, it can be easy to miss until it becomes a major problem. Here are the usual signs of water damage in a home:

  • Paint peeling from your walls
  • Mold growth (which can look like dark discoloration) on any surface
  • Warping of your floors.
  • A strong musty smell in a room.
  • Sagging in parts of your walls or ceiling.
  • Stains or discolored patches on walls or ceilings.
  • Water pooling in your yard after a storm.

Source: www.budgetdumpster.com/

How to Spot Foundation Problems

7/23/2018 (Permalink)

Homeowners often wonder how to identify the different signs of foundation problems. It certainly tops the list of potentially expensive home repairs, and for good reason. The average cost of foundation repairs can be between $5,000 and $7,000 and can potentially climb even higher if the problems damage other parts of your home. Identifying foundation problems early is an important part of preventative home maintenance.

Finding cracks in walls, floors and ceilings is crucial when assessing potential foundation damage. But just because you can’t see a crack doesn’t mean one isn’t there – or that it isn’t coming. Paranoid yet? Time to put your mind at ease. Here are a few ways to check your home for signs of foundation problems.

  1. Test door and windows- If you are noticing a few of your windows and doors getting tougher to close, it could be a sign of foundation problems. Shifting in an unstable foundation can distort the shape of the frames, making the doors and windows unable to latch and eventually jam entirely.
  2. Saggy Floors and Ceilings- Warped floors and ceilings and be a warning sign of foundation problems. As the foundation moves, it can pull apart or compact walls and support beams. This can cause the weight of the house to sit unevenly in certain spots. An indicating sign is a slanted floor. If you notice a continual change in one direction, it may be time to call a professional.
  3. Inspect Sources of mold- Reappearing mold in the corners of windows and walls and means that’s moisture is accumulating in your home. Check mold-prone areas to rule out any foundation-related cracks and gaps that could be letting in water.
  4. Check gaps between exterior windows and walls- If you notice gaps between your front door and façade, it could mean that the foundation of your home is shifting, causing the two to pull apart. These gaps can allow water and insects like termites into the walls of your home, resulting in even more structural damage in the long run.
  5. Pay close mind to your chimney- If your chimney shifts dramatically, it can collapse entirely, posing a serious threat to your family and your property.
  6. Investigate cracked walls or floors- The easiest signs of foundation problems are cracks in the walls and floors of your home. Not all cracks are related to foundation issues. Small cracks near a window or door frame can typically be caused by normal seasonal expansion of the drywall and underlying wood. Do be alarmed when you see cracks that are more than one-eighth of an inch wide. Cracks that are wide on one end and narrow on the other, horizontal or at a 45-degree angle, leaking water, or stair step cracks on walls can be a sign of foundation problems.

Reference: Schroer, Emily (2018, May 17). 9 Ways to Spot Serious Home Foundation Problems

Happy National Air Conditioning Day!

7/17/2018 (Permalink)

Try to imagine the world we live in without air conditioning and how uncomfortable it would be!

It was 116 years ago today, July 17, 1902 that the air conditioner was invented. Willis Carrier was an engineer, working to invent a machine that would control air temperature and humidity for a printing plant in Brooklyn, New York. His mission was to somehow create something that would keep the paper from shrinking, wrinkling, etc in the summer heat. What he wound up inventing was the first mechanical, electrical air conditioner and it would prove to be one of the world's most revolutionary inventions to date.

Thank you, Willis Carrier for inventing the Air Conditioner and for the enormous impact it continues to have on all of our daily lives!

Source: www.lane.us 

Great Uses For Baking Soda

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

The solution to many household cleaning and freshening problems is probably sitting in your cupboard right now—baking soda. Here are some Great uses for baking soda around your home!

  • Clean Floors- Get deep cleaned floors by mixing one-half cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water to make an effective cleanser for no-wax and tile floors. For scuff marks, sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge and gently rub until the scuff is gone.
  • Deodorize Carpets- To get rid of unpleasant odor from carpets and rugs, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the carpet and let it sit overnight. Vacuum until all baking soda is removed.
  • Deodorize Everything- We all know that an open box of baking soda can counterbalance odors in the fridge, but don’t stop there! You can use baking soda to chase away odors in garbage cans, dishwashers, and litter boxes. Simply sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the container or appliance, let sit for several hours or overnight, then rinse or wipe clean with a damp sponge.
  • Soap Scum- The infamous soap scum in the bathroom. Sprinkle baking soda onto a clean, damp sponge and wipe down surfaces, then rinse with cool water. For heavier bathroom cleaning jobs, make a paste of baking soda, salt, and liquid dish soap. Spread on the surface, then wipe clean and rinse.
  • Clean Drains- By pouring baking soda down the drain while running warm water, you can help neutralize acidity and odors. Make sure to do it on a regular basis.
  • Extinguish Fires- For small cooking fires, make sure to turn off the electricity or gas to the stove, stand back, and throw handfuls of baking soda at the base of the flame to put out the fire.

Source: www.bobvila.com

Health Hazards Buried in your bathroom

7/12/2018 (Permalink)

Candles, music, and tub filled with bubbles may be just what you need after a long day. But, with all that plumbing, humidity, and other business going on in there, your bathroom is full of unexpected hazards.

  • Soap Scum- Neglecting your tub is not only unsightly - that slimy buildup can lead to slips and falls while bathing or getting in and out of the tub. Aside from keeping your tub clean or shower floor clean, consider adding non-slip strips to the floor or installing grab bars to decrease the risk of injury.
  • Mold- Mold can grow often in the grout between tiles or along caulk lines due to an influx of humidity. Prevent the buildup with proper ventilation, including dehumidifiers, fans, and open windows.
  • Air Fresheners- Some sprays contain VOCs and cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. Try opting for a fan or opening a window instead of covering any unpleasant scents.
  • Cleaning Products- Although we are tempted to use the strongest cleanser we can find, some commercial cleaners contain chemicals that can irritate the eyes and skin or emit dangerous fumes. Instead, look for cleansers certified as the Safer Choice by the EPA.
  • Hairballs- Overtime, all the hair, products, and dirt you wash down the sink can clog up the pipes. A clog can lead to an overflow in the sink or tub that causes water damage through the rest of the room. To prevent it, run a snake through the pipes anytime the draining starts to slow.
  • Anti-bacterial Soap- Many soaps marketed as antibacterial contain additives like triclosan and triclocarban, which have been linked to afflictions from allergies to hormone disruption. Plus, they don’t actually get your hands any cleaner than vigorous washing with regular soap and water.

Source: https://www.bobvila.com

Care For Some Cleaning Tips?

7/11/2018 (Permalink)

Care for some cleaning tips? SERVPRO of Central Union County are here to give you a friendly reminder to clean these unexpected Spots around the house

  • Dust off your ceiling fan’s blades with a pillow case to prevent dust from flying all over the air. Start by sliding an old pillow case over the blade, then slowly slide it off, maintaining light pressure against the blade. Any dust will fall right into the case instead of all over the floor and air.
  • Do you gag every time you take out the trash to the garbage can? Sure, you may say that it will just get smelly all over again, but there's a tolerable level of stench that you can maintain if you just spray it down with a hose and a sprayer attachment. It should be strong enough to push all of that built-on grime.
  • Make a DIY spray for your outdoor furniture. Mix half a cup of vinegar, a cup of club soda, a cup of dish soap, and 15 drops of essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray all over the furniture and scrub with a bristle brush. Wipe off with a microfiber towel. Good like new!
  • Need outdoor cushions cleaned too? Scrub the cushions with a solution of a quart of warm water, a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent, and a tablespoon of Borax. Let cushions soak for 15 minutes, then rinse them with a hose. Stand them on their sides in the sun to dry.
  • I’m sure that dirt and pollen left behind on your windows doesn’t look very attractive. Rub warm soapy water all over the windows with the squeegee, then remove the cover to pull the squeegee across the window from top to bottom. Dry off the rubber blade after every pass and only move in one direction so you aren't pushing the dirt around.
  • Want to learn a neat trick for dusty window screens? You can vacuum the screens from the inside by putting the brush head on your vacuum and gently brushing the screen. No need to take them out of the window!
  • Rusty gardening tools? Spray your gardening tools with vinegar and wrap them in paper towels. Set them off to the side for 2 hours. Use a toothbrush to scrub off the rust, and rinse and dry the tools. Sprinkle baking soda all over the tools and splash water on them for a follow-up scrub. You can store them afterward in oiled sand to keep them lubricated

Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com

Pink Mold?

7/3/2018 (Permalink)

Have you noticed discoloration in your bathroom surfaces? Pink mold can be unpleasant to look at but follow these tips and kick this mold to the curb for good!

Unlike Cladosporium, or the notorious black mold, pink “mold” at all. The discoloration that you see comes from a biofilm of Serratia marcescens. It thrives in moist areas like your shower. It feeds on mineral deposits in soap scum and fatty deposits in soap and shampoo residue. Although it may be harmless to some, this mold can cause some illnesses such as a urinary tract or bladder infections if it enters the body through the eyes or open wound. Luckily, the pink to almost red coloring the mold produces makes it much easier to pin point and remove from shower, walls, floors, countertops, shower doors, and curtain liners.

  • The biofilm of Serratia marcescens can be removed through a little elbow grease. Start by mixing a quarter-cup baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid dish soap in a small bowl. Try to limit your exposure to the bacteria by wearing gloves and protective glasses. Vigorously scrub down any visible patches of biofilm on hard surfaces in the shower with a soft bristle brush. Rinse away any loosen biofilm.
  • Make sure to disinfect these same areas. It is not enough just to scrub away the biofilm. You must disinfect to get rid of any lingering bacteria to prevent it from returning. Bleach is your best option for killing any last bit of bacteria left behind. Pour six ounces each of chlorine bleach powder and warm water into a 12-ounce spray bottle. Spray the solution over the hard surfaces and let it sit for 10 minutes. Use a fresh soft bristle brush to scrub down surfaces, rinse down the surface, and dry with a clean towel.
  • Sanitize your shower curtains. It is a popular hangout spot for pink mold since curtains are rarely cleaned and usually riddled with soap and shampoo residue. Run your curtains through the washing machine on a gentle wash cycle preferably with warm water and let it air dry before hanging back up. This will effectively remove any Serratia marcescens bacteria.
  • Serratia marcescens is more likely to spread in damp areas, so make sure to dry or squeegee hard surfaces after every use to remove excess water.
  • Use a damp towel to wipe away soap residue that collects in the shower after every use.
  • Identify and repair leaking shower heads or faucets that may create excessive dampness in the shower.

Source: www.bobvila.com

Happy Holidays

7/3/2018 (Permalink)

As we enter the holiday spirit of backyard barbeques, flag waving, pool parties, and fireworks, we at SERVPRO of Central Union County would like to wish everyone a happy 4th of July. We would like to stress the importance of staying safe of any fireworks. While we use fireworks to mark this special holiday, it is in our best interest to stress the importance of safety. Fireworks cause thousands of burns and eye injuries each year. Most often children and teens are injured while using consumer fireworks. People can still enjoy fireworks if they follow simple safety tips. If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show put on by experts. Keep a close eye on children at events where fireworks are used.  Do not use consumer fireworks. All in all, have fun and stay cool!

Source: https://www.nfpa.org

Avoid Air Duct Cleaning Scams!

7/2/2018 (Permalink)

As a proud member of NADCA, our staff at SERVPRO of Central Union County are dedicated in providing the best services for your home when it comes to air duct cleaning. We also want you to be aware of switch-and-bait tactics. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is certainly the case with some companies offering special offers of $49 or $100 for an air duct cleaning job. We see it all the time. Companies advertising very low prices to lure potential customers in, only to up the price once inside your home. Different tactics these companies are using include offering a free mold test. From here, they might show a test where it looks like you have mold but it can potentially be a false test. This is a way for them to merely extort money. Some simple ways to avoid scams like these are to verify if the company is a NADCA member with certified contractors on staff. Always check customer reviews as they can be extremely helpful when deciding which company to go with. Try to avoid advertisements or “whole house specials” for under $100. Aside from those bad apples, there are a great amount of companies with amazing feedback, staying true to the services they provide. This is not to scare you off indefinite, but simply to educate you of potential scams.

Source: www.nadca.com

Emergency Guide for Homeowners

6/14/2018 (Permalink)

We at SERVPRO of Central Union County understand the inconveniences homeowners deal with in their home, whether there is a sudden burst pipe, or a flood in the basement. Here are some emergency guidelines to consider to better prepare yourself for any future common household mishaps.

Animal Invasion

                As homeowners, we are not too fond of uninvited guests. Animals can find their way inside your home causing major chaos. Urine, feces, ripped upholstery, you name it. These creatures sure do know how to leave a mark! No pun intended. Try closing all doors and containing it in one area. Open a window so it can find its way outside. Call animal control if this does not work.

Burst Pipes

                In a matter of seconds, a burst pipe can cause a substantial amount of damage. If water is gushing out, try closing the valve closest to the link, then shut off the main water valve into the house. We at SERVPRO of Central Union County are staffed with experienced technicians able to help with any clean up, extraction of water, or drying needed.

Black Out

                Although it seems like an unharmful inconvenience, power outages still pose dangers and safety precautions should be taken. Disconnect all appliances and electronics to avoid damage from power surges when the power returns to your home. Be careful when using candles, and make sure to stock up on flashlights and extra batteries.

Gas Leak

                If you notice a gas odor in your home or your carbon monoxide sounds, evacuate as quickly as possible. Once relocated to a safer area, call your gas company and ask them to send you a technician to check for any leaks.

Source: http://www.bobvila.com/

Common House Fire Hazards you may not be Aware of

5/16/2018 (Permalink)

Many people do not realize it but there are numerous bad habits we tend to ignore that may spark a fire in our homes. Consider the following hazards:

  1. Dirty rags- Sure, we’re inclined to pile up rags in a corner, but be aware! Oil soaked rags thrown and left unattended can potentially oxidized, spontaneously combusting, causing a house fire. Let rags dry flat outside or if disposing, use a metal can filled with water and a tight lid.
  2. Improper use of electric blankets- Yes, even a cozy blanket can go wrong. Never let your pet to snuggle on top, and make sure not to pile extra covers over the electric blanket. Excessive heat build-up can trigger a fire. To stay on the side, keep your blanket on the lowest setting and don’t forget to turn it off when not in use.
  3. Home Appliances Recalls- A significant amount of home appliances caused house fires in the past decade, some being from defective appliances. To ensure that you are on top of your home appliances, register your appliances with the manufacturers or recalls.gov to see if any of your models are on the list.
  4. Dryer Lint- Aside from cleaning your lint screen for more drying efficiency, did you know that lint can become flammable? Be very consistent with cleaning out lint from your dryer vent and exhaust duct.
  5. Excess amount of extension cords- Connecting a large amount of cords for an extensive amount of time can cause a short circuit and ignite a fire. Extension cords are not permanent solutions for a lack of electrical outlets.
  6. Oven Range hoods- While stoves can be a very common source for kitchen fires, range hoods present potential fire hazards as well. Grease builds up inside the vent hood filter and can potentially drip onto the stove, igniting a probable fire.

Source: www.bobvila.com

Is it time to replace your carpet?

5/9/2018 (Permalink)

Any carpet that experiences regular use will need to be replace sooner or later. Carpets usually have 5-15-year life span. Consider the following to determine if your carpet is due for a replacement.

  • Stains on your carpet? Although most carpets come with a stain resistance finish, the treatment fades away over time and leaves the carpet unprotected. If you find yourself covering stains with furniture or rugs, it may be time for a carpet replacement. Fortunately, professionals like SERVPRO of Central Union County have the skills to remove tough stains.
  • Certain stains such as pet urine or vomit are easily clean but bacteria from such can absorb into the carpet padding, eventually creating mold. Please consider replacing the carpet due to health hazards.
  • Experiencing bad odor? When owning a pet or you haven’t cleaned in a while, you will notice a persisting smell on your carpet. Usually with some proper cleaning, the smell will subside. If it doesn’t, typically the odors have penetrated deep into the carpet padding or subfloor.
  • If you notice that your allergies have increased, one source may be your older carpet. Often, older carpets retain allergens which can cause your allergies to act up.
  • How old is your carpet? color loss, fading, matting, ripples, wrinkles and lack of padding support can be a clear indication that your carpet has reached its end.

Source: www.angieslist.com

Home Energy Saving Tips For Summer

5/3/2018 (Permalink)

Those high temperatures summer brings can surely rack up high electrical bills. Here are some tips to keeping cool and save energy:
• Air leaks is very common in homes. Make sure to seal up windows, doors, and other parts of your home in which cool air can sneak out of.
• Look for products with the Energy Star label. Air conditioners with the Energy Star label usually use 15% less energy than conventional models. That means more money in your pocket.
• Make sure to clean and maintain air conditioners. Have your filters cleaned or replaced. This helps so your air conditioner uses less energy to operate.
• Unplug any appliances when not in use or when leaving your house. To make this hassle free, plug in appliances or home electronics on a power strip and turn off the power strip when not in use.
• Close blinds, shades, or curtains to keep your home cool and the hot sun rays out.
• Wash your clothes in cold water. Skip the dryer and take it old school with a traditional clothes line.
We hope these simple tricks will help you out this summer! 

Source: www.nrdc.org www.gracelinks.org 

Summer Home Maintenance

5/2/2018 (Permalink)

Summer is just around the corner. And that means lots of prepping for the hot weather. Here are some tips to get a head start on any necessary to-dos for a perfect summer experience.

Air Conditioners/ Fans

  • Check your air conditioners. As the weather gets warmer, it becomes the busiest year for window air conditioners, central air conditioner units, and fans. Remove the filters from window air conditioners and clean them thoroughly. Aside from helping keep the air running cool, cleaning your filters will also keep your AC bill low.
  • Try changing the filter once a month. Consider hiring professional services for your central air conditioning unit.
  • For ceiling fans, clean with a damp rag or a fain duster for those hard to reach blades.

Smoke Alarms

  • Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly.
  • You should change the batteries on your smoke every six months.

Clean the Gutters

  • Ridding your gutters of any leaves, sticks, and debris can help prevent roof leaks, water damage, even insects and rodents.
  • Gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year

Fix any Leaks

  • Check for leaks in your exterior faucets and hoses. The slightest drop of water can cost you money and a leaky faucet can slowly cause damage along the foundation of your home, which can potentially leak into your home

Source: www.thenest.com www.sheknows.com www.angieslist.com 

3 Major Types of Contaminated Water

4/23/2018 (Permalink)

Here at SERVPRO of Central Union, we take the necessary measures to identify contaminated water associated with water losses in your home. There are three major types of contaminated water.

Category 1- Clean Water

Clean water is water that you can drink safely and contains no contaminants or additives. This water can come from your faucet or shower head and is also considered rain water or snow melt. When it comes to water damage in your home, this type of water can come from broken supply lines, tub or sink overflows with no contaminants, appliance malfunctions involving water supply lines, melting ice or snow, falling rainwater, broken toilet tanks, etc. While clean water flooding your basement or floors may not cause an immediate health risk, it can quickly evolve into gray water after prolonged contact with building surfaces, material, and items            

Category 2- Gray Water

Gray water is water that may contain chemicals or contaminants that may be harmful to your health. This type of water can come from dishwashers, washing machines (water mixed with laundry detergent), overflows from toilet bowls with some urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic pressure, broken aquariums, punctured water beds, etc. Gray water can cause even more damage than clean water and can evolve into black water within 48 hours causing even further damage and health risks. 

Category 3- Black Water

Black water is water from sewage or other contaminated water sources including toilet backflows that originate beyond the trap, flooding from seawater, ground surface water and rising water from rivers or streams, etc. Black water can contain all types of harmful contaminants like bacteria, mold, fungi and viruses that can be extremely harmful to humans.

Source: www.IICRC.org

Lead Based Paint in Your Home

4/23/2018 (Permalink)

Before the Federal Government banned it in 1978, lead based paint was used in more than 38 million homes for its durability. Lead is a highly toxic metal that can cause health issues especially to your children. If your house was built before 1978, the chances of your paint having lead are extremely high. Deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged, or damp) is a hazard and needs immediate attention.

Lead is more harmful to children than to adults since it can disrupt with their growth, developing nerves, and brains. Some complications that children can experience is hearing problems, kidney damage, slow body growth, and behavioral problems. As far as symptom associated with lead poisoning, your child can develop headaches, Anemia, abdominal pain, cramping, loss of energy, etc. Very high levels of lead may cause vomiting, staggering walk, muscle weakness, seizures, or can even result in coma.

SERVPRO of Central Union County is are aware of the guidelines involving lead paint and will take the necessary precautions according to current laws. SERVPRO of Central Union County professionals have been trained and certified to follow lead-safe work practices while performing renovation and repair projects in your area. Contact us at (908) 233-7070 if you have a service need.

Source: www.epa.gov, www.medlineplus.gov

Get Ready For The Thunderstorm

4/16/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Central Union County cares gratefully about the safety of our customers. Thunderstorms can be a scary and overwhelming event. Here are some safety precautions that can be taken to insure your well-being.

  • Keep yourself updated with news reports by listening to your local weather radios.
  • When inside, stay off corded phones, computers, and other electronic equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity or plumbing.
  • Unplug any appliances or electrical items such as TVs, computers, and air conditioners. If you are not able to unplug, turn it off.
  • Secure any doors and shutters. Make sure that you remove any dead or rotting branches from trees that could potentially fall and cause damage to your home or anyone.

Remember, Storm damage is likely to occur depending on the intensity of the storm. For any services you may need whether an emergency or a quote, please feel free to give us a call at (908) 233-7070

Source: http://www.jacksontwp.com

Indoor Mold

4/13/2018 (Permalink)

Here at SERVPRO of Central Union County we have highly trained mold remediation technicians that can properly resolve mold infestation. We provide services such as mold remediation and mold removal.

Molds are usually not an indoor problem unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. It takes no less than 48 hours for mold to quickly spread throughout your home.

Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints. Home owners have to understand that there is no way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in indoor environments but there are ways to control indoor mold growth.

If mold is a problem in your home, you can call SERVPRO of Central Union County at (908) 233-7070 to help assist you.

Source: www.epa.gov

Water Damage Tips

4/13/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Central Union County is your number one stop for water damage restoration for your residential home.

If you are currently experiencing water damage in your home here are a few first aid restoration tips.

  • After assuring that it is safe, make sure to turn off power outlets and electric appliances in or near flooded areas. Any other electric devices should not be handled while standing in water
  • Remove wet rugs or anything off the floor
  • Mop up as much water as possible
  • Move any valuable items such as paintings and family pictures to a dry area
  • Remove all furniture from wet areas
  • Prop up wet pillows and furniture cushions for even drying
  • Open drawers and closet doors to decrease drying time
  • Wipe down furniture to get rid of excess moisture

Source: www.waterdamagerecovery.net

Benefits of HVAC System Cleaning for your commercial Building

4/12/2018 (Permalink)

Our SERVPRO staff are trained to take on even the biggest tasks. SERVPRO provides cleaning services to commercial buildings no matter the size.

For those with HVAC Systems, it is very important to do routinely maintenance. This has many benefits including better air quality and less energy wasted.

 HVAC systems can get dirty over time and they have the potential to contain large amounts of dust and particulates. Although this does not mean that the air is unhealthy, it may contribute to health issues for people with respiratory health conditions or allergies. Indoor air quality is crucial and is one of the main concerns that building managers and building inhabitants have when they decide to investigate HVAC system. Normally, commercial buildings generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. This re-circulation can cause a build-up of contaminants in the ductwork overtime.

Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-effectiveness.

Source: Nadca.com

Bob Morrison, MBA, ASD, WRT

4/12/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Central Union County is highly devoted to serving their community in the best way they can. Take a look at this wonderful contribution from Bob Morrison in his own words, as we highlight one of his many devotions to his community with a Hospital Facility Managers Group.

“I was on the waiting list for this group for many years, prior to getting inducted in 2003 and have been an active member since then.”  Bill Anderson sponsored me, and I remain grateful to him for his efforts in assisting me. My relationship with Bill stemmed from when I was an account rep for Honeywell Inc., and was assigned our account at Rahway Hospital, where he was the Vice President of Facilities. I have been a member of ASHE dating back to 1993, and have remained active with since 2009. I currently serve on the Hospital Facility Managers Group, in which I greatly value and enjoy. I have been serving that capacity since 2015. Prior to then, I served as the Ad Journal Committee Chair, dating back to 2010. During that time, I was fortunate to have been recognized with the President’s Service Award for my efforts to the Chapter in 2012.

In my view, the culture has changed positively through the years, thereby encouraging and enabling member participation in many aspects of Chapter activities.

There has been an influx of newer members, including Regular Members, Professional Members as well as Professional Associate Members. In my view, this has enabled a more global perspective of the specific Healthcare challenges and concerns which our industry is faced with.

 “The ability for all these varied backgrounds and points of view facilitates networking opportunities, from both a business-to- business level as well as via a peer-to-peer level.”

I have owned SERVPRO of Central Union County for over 15 years. We provide both emergency and non-emergency services, including fire/water restoration, mold remediation, HVAC System and Air Duct System cleaning, Cooling Tower cleaning, deodorization, and many more. My company is certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning Restoration Certification (IICRC), the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), active with the Indoor Air Quality Association of New Jersey (IAQA). We are registered as a Small Business Enterprise (SME) with the State of New Jersey. We are registered with the Federal Small Business Administration (SBA), and with the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey as a Small Business.

We have performed services at many of the Chapter Institutions through the years, and remain excited about working with many more going forward. We offer an Emergency Response Profile (ERP) which is an electronic App which proactively provides valuable facility data should an event occur, on any portable electronic device on a real- time basis. This is available at no cost in essence, a free tool which we would be happy to generate upon request.

In summary, I love our organization and look forward to forging ahead together!”

Fire in Kitchens

4/12/2018 (Permalink)

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in your home. Unattended cooking causes nearly 90 percent of all kitchen fires. Here are some tips to prevent Kitchen fires.

  • Never leave cooking food unattended! Fires can happen spontaneously. Cooking food should always be monitored. Make sure if you leave the room, to turn off the stove.
  • Avoid any loose clothing. Baggy t-shirts or dangling sleeves can potentially catch on fire while around a stove.
  • Always watch your kids! For parents, we want to keep our kids safe and sound from any fires. Try to avoid having your child(ren) around cooking areas. At least 3 feet away from the stove is ideal to insure their safety.
  • Try to keep anything that can catch on fire away from your stove stop. This can include oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, and towels or curtains. Materials like such can generate heat.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in hands reach in your kitchen.

CE Class May 1st 2018

2/23/2018 (Permalink)

HELLO!

It’s that time of year again! We here at SERVPRO of Central Union County will be hosting a FREE 3 credit CE class for New Jersey P&C Insurance producers on Tuesday, May 1, 2017.

GOOD STUFF- ENHANCEMENTS YOU WANT ON YOUR CLIENT’S POLICIES (Enhancing your client's coverage is a critical part of the risk management function and is mandatory in today's competitive environment. Most policy forms as written, need to be broadened in a variety of ways: increasing-sub limits, broadening restrictive coverage, providing coverage where no coverage is given, and adding essential endorsements to help keep you out of court! Beware of some "broadening" endorsements that carriers include with their policies---as they may just give your more limit of a crummy coverage! This class will help you determine the expanded coverages you should be sure are included in your client's insurance program).
(#88893270-NJ)
Presented by
Steven D. Lyon, CPCU,CIC,CRM,AAI,ARM,AIS,CRIS,CWCP
Lyon Consulting Services, LLC

If you are interested in attending and you have not signed up already, please leave us a comment with your E-Mail so, Vanessa Garcia (Social Media Coordinator), can send you the form and sign you in as soon as possible. If you registered please disregard this message and we hope to see you there!!!

Storm Safety

10/25/2017 (Permalink)

No matter where you live, you'll encounter storms. Most of the time these are routine, but some cause serious and dangerous problems. Here are tips for preparing for storms, and weathering them safely.

  • Always keep a battery-powered radio in your home so that you can tune to radio stations if you lose electricity. Check or change the batteries frequently.

  • Keep a flashlight in an easily accessible spot on every floor of your home. Check the batteries monthly, and replace them as needed.

  • Keep a supply of candles on hand for power failures.

  • As a safety precaution before leaving the house on vacation, unplug all electrical appliances except for those lights connected to automatic timers.

  • If you live in a storm-prone area, nail down roof shingles or use adequate adhesive to keep them from blowing off in a violent wind. For roofs with shingles that are not the seal-down type, apply a little dab of roofing cement under each tab.

  • A lightning-protection system should offer an easy, direct path for the bolt to follow into the ground and thus prevent injury or damage. Grounding rods (at least two for a house) should be placed at opposite corners of the house.

  • Don't go out during a hurricane unless you have to; however, if flooding threatens, seek high ground, and follow the instructions of civil defense personnel.

  • When a major storm is imminent, close shutters, board windows, or tape the inside of larger panes with an "X" along the full length of their diagonals. Even a light material like masking tape may give the glass the extra margin of strength it needs to resist cracking.
  • When a tornado threatens, leave windows slightly ajar.

  • The basement is not a good shelter during a tornado -- it's too close to gas pipes, sewer pipes, drains, and cesspools. A better shelter would be underground, far from the house (in case the roof falls) and away from the gas and sewer systems. Let all family members know where the shelter is.

  • Keep an eye on large trees -- even healthy ones -- that could damage your house if felled in a storm. Cut them back, if necessary.

We've covered numerous key tips for preparing for storms and getting through them safely. Now you can regard gathering clouds with a little less trepidation.

After a storm if you need assistance you can always reach out to us here in SERVPRO of Central Union County at 908-233-7070.

Hurricane Maria Aftermath

10/5/2017 (Permalink)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two weeks after Hurricane Maria toppled Puerto Rico's communications towers, wrecked its electrical grid and knocked out power to water systems, medical officials said the island's health system is "on life support."

"We have hospitals that are working, but eventually we are going to have to transfer patients," said Carlos Méndez, an associate administrator at the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in Hato Rey, one of the island’s top medical facilities. 

Among the multiple impacts that have left the island’s medical system deeply damaged:

-Patients are dying because of complications related to the primitive conditions and difficult transportation issues so many island residents now endure.

-A lack of transportation in small towns makes it difficult to transfer patients to larger hospitals.

-An administrator in a small-town hospital has to drive her car to an ambulance company a mile away to ask for a patient to be transferred to a larger hospital.

-Severe lack of communications on the island has resulted in less triage and coordination between hospitals, and more patients arriving at large medical centers than usual, which has stretched capacity.

-Doctors are afraid to discharge patients after surgery to places with unsanitary conditions and where care and transportation may not exist, adding strain to an already strained system.

On Wednesday, health officials in Puerto Rico toured the 1,000-bed U.S. Naval Hospital Ship Comfort as it docked in San Juan, the capital. It is the largest floating medical facility in the U.S. military and the ship will be used to help deal with the medical crisis facing this island of 3.4 million residents.

Méndez, whose hospital has Puerto Rico's only fully functioning ward for cardio-thoracic surgery — for treatments inside the chest — said the U.S.S. Comfort’s arrival comes as the island's health system "right now is on life support."

Getting water, needing an ambulance

Across the island in the hill town of Adjuntas, near Puerto Rico’s southern coast, doctors and nurses at the Adjuntas medical center celebrated Wednesday the first shipment of water since Hurricane Maria blasted the town. 

But the celebrations were cut short when Gladys Galarza, a nurse, brought a patient's electrocardiogram (EKG) chart to emergency room physician, Jorge Gagos.

The chart showed an abnormal rhythm.

The patient, an elderly woman with a history of heart trouble who was complaining of chest pains, needed a better-equipped hospital — and an ambulance to get there.

"We have a sick person and no ambulance," Gagos said. "Normally we have a phone to call. The nearest ambulance is one mile away."

Lacking a radio or a satellite phone, Gagos asked a hospital administrator to get in her car and deliver the message to the ambulance company, a private contractor. That led to an argument over payment. Eventually, after more than an hour, the ambulance showed up and took the woman to San Lucan Hospital in Ponce.

As he prepared to tour the Comfort, Carlos Gomez Marcial, emergency medical director at Centro Medico de Puerto Rico, the island’s top-level trauma center, listed the top challenges facing patients and hospitals: Water, food, communications.

"We can’t communicate with anybody," Gomez Marcial said. "Less than 10% of communications towers are standing. For command and control, it’s very hard to get things done without communications."

As a result, administrators cannot plan for receiving new patients. And without communications, the process that usually results in triaging patients based on how sick they are, and available beds in trauma hospitals, doesn’t work.

Centro Medico de Puerto Rico operated on generator power for three days after the storm, and contended with water shortages. It was finally connected to the grid on Saturday and is now nearing capacity.

After touring the floating hospital, Gomez Marcial said he would confer with other hospital officials on which patients to transfer.

"When they arrive by helicopter there’s no way to turn them away," added Juan Angel Nazario Fernandez, Centro Medico de Puerto Rico's senior medical officer.

Outside, in a series of tents set up in the hospital's parking lot, a low-level treatment center run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) is attempting to relieve some of that pressure.

“Our mission here is to decompress the emergency room,” said Lesa Ansell of Dallas, Tex., DMAT’s chief nursing officer here, and part of one of 18 teams across the island.

“We triage patients, treat some here, and send trauma and surgery patients inside." 

Bad conditions, sicker patients

Orlando López de Victoria, the only cardio-thoracic surgeon still on the island, said more patients have arrived sicker than usual because of the difficult conditions.  

Some have died.

On Monday, he operated on a patient whose transfer to Auxilio Mutuo in Hato Rey was delayed because there was no gasoline. By the time she arrived, her heart was so weak she didn't survive the operation.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria from 16 to 34, citing several similar cases as part of the reason for the increase.

"Yesterday, one of my patients came with a very infected wound because he has no water to take a shower," López de Victoria said.

Other cardiac surgeons left the island before the hurricane.

"I decided to stay because I love my country, my family and my patients," he said. 

For more information, or if you need help with flooding, or any water damage give us a call here at SERVPRO of Central Union NJ 908-233-7070

Tropical Storm Nate is On His Way

10/5/2017 (Permalink)

A newly formed tropical storm in the southwestern Caribbean is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane that could affect the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The system, formerly a tropical depression, strengthened into a tropical storm near the coast of Nicaragua this morning. Tropical Storm Nate was moving across northeastern Nicaragua, churning 50 miles northwest of Puerto Cabezas, as of 2 p.m. ET, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The tropical storm is pounding Nicaragua with rain heavy enough to cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Up to 30 inches of rain is possible in some areas of Central America through Friday night.

 Amid busy hurricane season, National Weather Service hampered by shortage of meteorologists

 The rest of the 2017 hurricane season will be 'active' with more storms to come, NOAA meteorologist says

 Tropical Storm Nate is expected to be near Cancun, Mexico, by Friday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane watch has already been issued for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun.

Nate could reach hurricane status as early as Saturday while entering the Gulf of Mexico. Its trajectory has it on track to make landfall somewhere between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, on Saturday night or Sunday morning as a weak Category 1 hurricane, with winds of about 80 mph. Then, the storm is expected to weaken to a post-tropical system, according to the National Hurricane Center.

But the track and the storm's strength are subject to change.

Residents from Louisiana to Florida are being warned to monitor the system as it approaches this weekend. The area is still feeling the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

So far, the Atlantic has seen five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) during the 2017 season; two short of the record set in 2005, when seven major hurricanes hit.

If you need any information on storm safety, flooding, and water damage precautions do give us a call here in SERVPRO of Central Union NJ at 908-233-7070

Storm Chasers

9/11/2017 (Permalink)

– In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it is easy to be tricked by a less than professional repair service. Hiring a “storm chaser” will lead to serious headaches, exorbitant costs, poor workmanship and unfinished work that can leave your home or business in worse condition. To ensure your home or business is restored by a trustworthy and reliable company after devastating flood damage, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has compiled a list of key characteristics to help identify “storm chasers.” “After a flood, home and business owners are in a vulnerable state,” said Pete Duncanson, IICRC Chairman. “Unfortunately, some individuals will take advantage of people’s hardships. These tips will help you identify the warning signs of a flood restoration scam artist.” To help home owners and businesses properly restore their properties following a disaster, the IICRC identifies the following traits of a “storm chaser”:

1. Too-good-to-be-true prices. Often dubious restoration companies will offer low prices to grab your attention, but be wary of surprise costs that will hurt your wallet. Never let the price of the repairs be the sole criterion for choosing a restoration firm.

2. Requesting upfront cash payments. While it can be a regular practice to deposit up to one-third of the estimated price on the day repairs begin, avoid paying in cash or more than the expected payment. Pay by check or credit card, and pay the final amount only after the work is finished and you are happy with the quality of the repairs.

3. A lack of references. References are easy to check and can help you quickly identify if the company is legitimate and provides good service. Research the company online and check feedback on user-review sites such as Angie’s List or Yelp, or ask friends or business contacts if they have had any experience with the firm.

4. High-pressure tactics. Often, a “storm chaser” will arrive uninvited to your door peddling their services. If the contractor is using high-pressure sales tactics, it is best to turn them away politely and shut the door. Technicians should be courteous, thoroughly explain the scope of work and answer all questions. You should never feel pressure to accept their services.

5. Lack of training. Professional cleaning and restoration firms require management and employees to engage in formal training in a variety of cleaning and restoration disciplines, and these educational efforts will be ongoing. Inquire about the formal training and certifications of technicians who will be working in your home or business. Look for organizations that require their technicians to hold certifications from organizations like the IICRC to ensure the work is done correctly.

6. Inability to show credentials. Never hesitate to ask for proof. Ask to see the individual’s certification card, business license and insurance certificate. To verify a company, you can contact the IICRC which is a not-for-profit standards-setting and credentialing body for the inspection, cleaning and restoration industry. Call the IICRC at 1-844-464-4272 to confirm the certification of any company that has contacted you. You can also go to http://www.IICRC.org/locate-a-certified-professional/ to locate a qualified cleaning and restoration firm in your area. Immediately after a storm, a home or business owner should contact their insurance provider for a storm damage assessment by an adjuster. Insurance companies can often provide a list of credible restoration companies. As an international non-profit organization, the IICRC is dedicated to providing advice on proper and safe clean-up, and providing certification to professionals in water damage restoration.

About IICRC The IICRC is an international, ANSI-accredited standard-development organization (SDO) that certifies individuals in 20+ categories within the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. Representing more than 54,000 certified technicians and 6,000 Certified Firms in 22 countries, the IICRC, in partnership with regional and international trade associations, represents the entire industry. The IICRC does not own schools, employ instructors, produce training materials, or promote specific product brands, cleaning methods or systems. For more information, visit www.IICRC.org.

DIY Mold Test for Home

9/8/2017 (Permalink)

You can expect mold and mildew outside your home because of the natural damp conditions of the outdoors. Mold and mildew inside the home is a different problem, because the inside of your home shouldn’t remain damp.

The presence of moisture is the biggest contributor to mold growth, and to fight the infestation you should conduct a room-by-room assessment of the house to identify problem areas. The moisture can come from condensation due to poor ventilation (attic), from a water leak (around bathrooms), or from outdoor intrusion (foundation walls).

Detection

Mold and mildew in a home is not always easy to detect if it exists within attics or is hidden within walls. If you suspect your indoor air quality is hindered by hidden mold, you can conduct your own DIY test to detect a problem.

The EHT staff recently conducted the Healthful Home 5-Minute Mold Test in a finished basement that had suffered some previous flooding problems. The air seemed fine in the room, but the old moisture issues suggested that if there were to be a mold problem in the house then it was likely to occur in this room.

The test is easy to accomplish. Simply use one of the cotton swabs included with the kit to sample surface dust in the room. Soak the swab tip in the “rinse buffer” liquid (included) and then drip five drops of the liquid onto the two test strips that come with the kit. One strip is labeled Asp/Pen (Aspergillus and/or Penicillium) and the other is labeled Stachybortrys.

Test results show in as little as 5 minutes, and much like a pregnancy test you’ll either see one line (negative results) or two lines (positive).

If the test is positive, however, it does not necessarily mean you have a serious problem but that you should consider consulting a professional indoor air quality inspector or a remediation service professional. You can also have an optional laboratory analysis of your test results conducted for an additional fee.

Fighting the Mold you Find

If you discover mold on the home’s interior, the first step in solving the problem is to eliminate the source of moisture—whatever that may be. Otherwise, any mold or mildew you clean is likely to return.

For minor problems you may be able to clean the surface of the materials with bleach or an antimicrobial cleaner. For major problems, remove materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned of mold and mildew, like insulation, carpeting or drywall. Use your antimicrobial cleaner to clean the surrounding area as well as the places where you actually see mold and mildew, to make sure you remove all traces of the substances.

Finally, replace the removed building materials with new, mold-free materials.

You can learn more about the 5-minute Mold Test at myhealthfulhome.com. or you can visit our website at www.SERVPROcentralunioncounty.com. Follow us on Facebook at   www.facebook.com/SERVPROcentunionnj.

or simply give us a call at 908-233-7070 

Red Cross Helps

9/6/2017 (Permalink)

In the wake of this historic catastrophe, it is inspiring to see so many in the community come together to help Red Cross make a difference for the people whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey. 

I want to share some stories of the people who braved life-threatening conditions to find shelter from the storm. Thanks to your generosity, those fleeing their homes found a safe, dry place to stay, nourishment and warmth, and emotional support during this traumatic time.

Please take a moment to learn more about some of the families you are helping:

Jennifer and her 10-year-old son Kortney were evacuated by helicopter from their home in Houston. 

“I haven’t cried at all, because I’m looking at the news and seeing all the people who have lost everything… so I’m not going to complain,” she recounts her experience to a Red Cross volunteer. Asked to describe what it meant to have a safe place to be, she shared, “[I’m] very appreciative because some people are still waiting. And yesterday, we were eating, we were safe, we were warm, we had three hot meals.” 

Noticing tears forming in his mother’s eyes, Kortney gave her a warm hug.

 

By late Monday night, the shelter population at the George R. Brown Convention Center had nearly 9,000 residents. “No one will be turned away” was the mantra of service at the Houston mega shelter:

 Massive disasters like Hurricane Harvey create more needs than any one organization can meet on its own. We are working very closely with the entire response community – government agencies, other non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses and others – to coordinate emergency relief efforts and to help people as quickly as possible. Along with our partners, the Red Cross has served more than 807,000 meals and snacks since the storm began. Thousands of more meals will be served in the days ahead.  Sisters Skyann and Marylee take a break from playing at a shelter in Cuero, Texas. Disasters like Hurricane Harvey take an emotional toll on families, but shelters can offer more than safety and food. They give kids a chance to play and relax despite difficult circumstances. Inside, Dveuon plays with building blocks while staying in the shelter in Cuero, Texas. He traveled with his mother Mariah and three siblings to escape the storm. “It’s safe, my kids are safe, I can’t really complain,” Mariah said. 

And finally, there is Diesel, a service dog, who came to the shelter with his owner, Chris Long. Late at night on August 27 at a Red Cross shelter, Diesel alerted others that Chris was having a stroke. Thanks to his service dog, Chris got the urgent medical attention he needed while staying at the shelter. “The Red Cross, y’all are good people. If you need something they got you,” said Chris. 

Every day, we strive to make Chris’s words true. 

From cots and blankets, meals and medicine, to hugs and games, we are helping meet the most urgent needs of families and individuals like Chris, thanks to your generous support. 

Proper Air Duct Cleaning in Businesses

9/6/2017 (Permalink)

What You Need to Know About Air Duct Cleaning

Air duct cleaning is a misnomer. In actuality, the entire HVAC system should be cleaned. Failure to clean all components of the system can result in recontamination of the entire system, thus minimizing the benefits of cleaning.

Just as you wouldn’t clean only half of your living room floor, you also would not want to clean only part of your HVAC system. NADCA recommends cleaning the entire HVAC system, including the following components:

  • air ducts
  • coils
  • drain pan
  • registers
  • grills
  • air plenum
  • blower motor and assembly
  • heat exchanger
  • air filter
  • air cleaner

There are two key components to HVAC cleaning: breaking contaminants loose, and collection of contaminants.

Breaking Contaminants Loose

Properly cleaning HVAC systems requires removing the sources of contamination. Source removal begins with the use of one or more agitation devices designed to loosen contaminants from the surfaces within the heating and air conditioning system. Examples of agitation devices include: brushes, air whips and compressed air nozzles or “skipper balls.” Agitation can also be achieved through hand-brushing or contact vacuuming.

Collection of Contaminants

During cleaning, the entire HVAC system is placed under continuous negative pressure (a vacuum) to prevent the spread of contaminants. Continuous negative pressure allows very fine particles to be removed from the system as they become airborne, ensuring that these particles are not released into the living space when the system is turned on after cleaning. This negative pressure also serves to extract the loosened contaminants, which are collected and removed from your home.

System Access

HVAC system cleaning is not a complex process, but each job is unique. Where possible, access to duct interiors should be made through existing openings such as supply diffusers, return grills, duct end caps and existing service openings. Cleaning technicians may need to cut access holes in the duct work in order to reach inside with various cleaning tools. Creation of these service openings, and their subsequent closure, requires craftsmanship and professional skills.

Equipment Requirements

There is a wide variety of equipment available to HVAC cleaning professionals. Both truck-mounted and portable vacuums can be used to stop the spread of contaminants and get the system cleaned to the NADCA Standard.

Antimicrobial Chemicals

Antimicrobial chemicals include sanitizers, disinfectants and deodorizers that can be applied to nonporous surfaces in HVAC systems to address microbial contamination and help control odors. Only chemicals registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be used. These products should only be considered after mechanical surface cleaning has been performed and if the need for such treatment has been deemed necessary. Review the NADCA White Paper on Chemical Applications in HVAC Systems for more information. 

Preventing Mold Growth

9/6/2017 (Permalink)

Hurricane season is officially upon us and the potential damage that storms can leave behind is limitless. For some properties, the severe weather will result in water damage, caused by flooding. In an effort to help homeowners recover, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) is offering tips about restoring damaged HVAC systems and avoiding mold growth when flooding occurs.

According to the American Red Cross, floods are the most frequent and costly natural disasters. When flooding occurs, homes are prone to extreme water damage and in many cases, mold.

NADCA recommends hiring a certified contractor to inspect potentially damaged air handling systems when flooding occurs. It’s almost impossible to avoid the effects of natural disasters. Water damage and flooding are sometimes unavoidable when natural disasters hit, but consulting with a NADCA-certified contractor after a disaster will help homeowners determine next steps.

NADCA urges these individuals to consider the following, to help prolong the longevity of their air handling unit and avoid mold contamination:

  • Use dehumidifiers to dry out the structure of the home effected. This will help keep the humidity low and the ventilation system dry.
  • If the electric is still working, turn it off to avoid damaging your HVAC system.
  • If sheetrock and insulation appears extremely wet, remove it as soon as possible. If left untouched, this can be a food source for growing mold.
  • If you suspect the water damage in your home has resulted in mold growth, be sure to wear a respirator to protect yourself whenever you are in the infected area.

Hurricane Irma is on the Way

9/5/2017 (Permalink)

Meteorologists have been shocked at how rapidly Hurricane Irma has been strengthening, and they are already warning that if it hits the United States as a high-level category 5 storm the devastation would be absolutely unprecedented.  Of course, we are already dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and many experts are already telling us that the economic damage done by that storm will easily surpass any other disaster in all of U.S. history.  But there is a very real possibility that Hurricane Irma could be even worse.  According to the National Hurricane Center, at 5 PM on Friday Irma already had sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.  But it is still very early, and as you will see below, next week it is expected to potentially develop into a category 5 storm with winds of 180 miles per hour or more.

I suppose that it is appropriate that such a powerful storm has a very powerful name.  In old German, the name “Irma” actually means “war goddess”

The name Irma is a German baby name. In German the meaning of the name Irma is: Universal, from the Old German ‘irmin’. War goddess.

Irma began forming on Wednesday, and it intensified at a faster rate than any storm that we have seen in nearly 20 years

Hurricane Irma formed early Wednesday in the warm waters off the coast of West Africa — and took just 30 hours to strengthen to a Category 3. That’s the fastest intensification rate in almost two decades. By Friday afternoon, the storm had also grown noticeably larger in size with a well-defined eye, a classic sign of a strong hurricane.

Though Irma poses no immediate threat to land, the outlook is ominous: In the Atlantic, Irma is expected to pass through some abnormally warm waters — the primary fuel source for storm systems. The official National Hurricane Center forecast says it will remain at major hurricane status for at least the next five days, and, in a worst-case scenario, Irma could eventually grow into one of the strongest hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic.

So how powerful could Irma eventually become?

According to Michael Ventrice of the Weather Channel, Irma could easily become a “super typhoon” with “sustained speeds of over 180mph”

Veteran USA forecaster Michael Ventrice posted the track model on Twitter overnight and warned it looked like the storm could be a “super typhoon”, with sustained speeds of over 180mph.

He wrote: “These are the highest windspeed forecasts I’ve ever seen in my 10 yrs of Atlantic hurricane forecasting.

“Irma is another retiree candidate.”

The scale we have right now really never envisioned storms that powerful.  In fact, some have suggested that we need to add a “category 6” to describe the kind of “super storms” that are now developing in the Atlantic.

One of the reasons why Irma is so unique is because it is a “Cape Verde hurricane”

There are a few factors that worry hurricane forecasters more about this storm when compared to the myriad other tropical storms and hurricanes that tend to form in the Atlantic.

First, it’s a so-called Cape Verde storm, having formed off the west coast of Africa. These storms tend to be the ones that go on to affect the U.S., after gathering strength for many days during their march across the ocean. For example, Hurricane Andrew, which was the most recent Category 5 storm to hit the U.S. in 1992, was a Cape Verde-type storm.

Because they begin at a relatively low latitude and move west rather than northwest, it can be harder for upper level winds blowing across North America to pick up and steer these types of storms away from the U.S. coast.

Let us hope that this storm does get steered away from our coastlines at some point, but so far that is just not happening.

Many hurricanes are often weakened by wind shear, but that isn’t happening to Irma either.  In fact, CNN is reporting that “Irma will remain in a low-shear environment for the next several days”…

A strong high-pressure ridge to the north of Irma, over the Atlantic, is steering the storm to the west and limiting the wind shear in the upper levels of the atmosphere, which has allowed the storm to grow so quickly. Wind shear is like hurricane kryptonite, and prevents storms from forming or gaining strength.

Unfortunately, Irma will remain in a low-shear environment for the next several days, so there isn’t much hope that Irma will weaken any time soon.

Basically, conditions are nearly ideal for a “super storm” to develop, and if Irma does make it to the U.S. the destruction that it causes could be absolutely off the charts.

Of course, at this point, there is no guarantee that it will ever reach the United States.  But if it does, and if it is still a category 5 storm when it arrives, we could be facing an event unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

Do you remember Hurricane Katrina?  Well, scientists now know that when it hit New Orleans it had already been downgraded to just a “low category 3” storm

To put this all in perspective, Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane out over some hot spots in the Gulf. But when it hit New Orleans, scientists now know, Katrina had winds at a low Category 3, and much of them Category 2, including the “left side winds” that then came down from the north and pushed the surge-swollen waters of Lake Pontchartrain over and through NOLA’s levees. (Hurricanes spin counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, so when Katrina came ashore just east of New Orleans, its winds hit the city from the north.)

Only three Category 5s have come ashore in the United States in the past century — the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, Camille in 1969 and Andrew in 1992.

And Hurricane Harvey was just a category 4 storm.

If Hurricane Irma were to make landfall as a category 5 storm with sustained winds of 180 miles per hour, it would rip buildings and everything else in its path to shreds.

Next week we shall find out what happens.  Let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

Article posted with permission from The Economic Collapse Blog

Take a look at the future of America: The Beginning of the End and then prepare

Hurricane Harvey: The Devastation and What Comes Next

8/31/2017 (Permalink)

Overwhelmed by the news since Harvey made landfall? Here is an overview of coverage by The New York Times.

The latest can be found in Thursday’s live storm briefing.

A region eyes recovery

With rainfall topping 47 inches in some areas, Harvey devastated aswath of Texas stretching east from Houston. “Our whole city is underwater,” Derrick Freeman, the mayor of Port Arthur, Texas, said on Wednesday.

A Times reporter shared his account of returning home to nearby Beaumont.

But even as the rain and wind moved on, the region continued to suffer the consequences of the storm. Explosions rocked a chemical plant early Thursday, and many hazards still lurk beneath the floodwaters that soaked the region.

As the sun returned on Wednesday, residents emerged to assess the damage.

Here are some of the most powerful photos of the devastation and a before-and-after look at the storm’s impact.

If you can do so safely, please share your own photos and videos here, or leave us a voice mail message. And listen to Thursday’s episode of “The Daily” to learn about how Houston was built to flood.

A look at the human toll

At least 38 people have died so far, including a Houston police officer, a family whose van was trapped beneath surging floodwater, and a mother whose shivering 3-year-old was found clinging to her unresponsive body.

The survivors face hurdles of their own and aid may be slow in coming. The difficulty of distributing aid was on display this week as many supply trucks arrived at a hub near San Antonio, but few went out.

Tens of thousands of people filled overcrowded shelters, the management of which remains “the biggest battle that we have right now,” Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said on Thursday.

Vice President Mike Penceand other cabinet officials were expected to meet with storm survivors around Corpus Christi on Thursday, two days after President Trump himself visited the area.

Here’s a look at how victims sought out help online.

What made Harvey so powerful?

What set Harvey apart was its rain. Once it made landfall, the storm essentially stalled, turning roads into raging rivers. Scientists say it was fueled by a deadly combination of environmental factors.

And while it has been called a “500-year flood,” that term may be misleading: a similar storm may not be as far off as you might think.

For many people, the images of inundated streets and victims on rooftops evoked comparisons to Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, survivors of Katrina saw themselves in the scenes from Houston.

These maps track Harvey’s path through Texas and Louisiana. And here’s how experts prepared for the storm and worked to warn the public.

How to help

Many organizations are helping victims on the ground. Here are a few of them; a fuller list can be found here.

 The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund was established by Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston and is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

• The Houston Food Bank, the Galveston County Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are accepting online donations.

 The Houston Humane Society and the San Antonio Humane Society are helping animals affected by the storm.

• Save the Children is accepting donations.

Some scams are circulating online. Here are a few things to watch out for.

Exploding Chemical Plant

8/31/2017 (Permalink)

As water began to recede in some parts of flood-ravaged Houston and as Harvey, now a tropical depression, shifted its wrath to the Beaumont-Port Arthur area of Texas, there were reports early Thursday that a chemical plant at risk of exploding had done just that.

There were two explosions at the Arkema plant in Crosby, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Houston, around 2 a.m., the French chemicals company that owns the plant said in a statement.

It said there was a risk of further explosions at the site.

“We want local residents to be aware that the product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains,” Arkema said.

CBS19, the Houston affiliate, reported the two explosions at the plant and showed photos of black smoke. The blasts were also reported by Fox 26.

The company had already ordered all workers to leave the damaged plant, and Harris County ordered the evacuation of residents within a 1.5-mile radius. After the explosion, at least one Harris County deputy was taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes from the plant, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter.

Later, the sheriff’s office tweeted that company officials believed that the smoke inhaled by the 10 deputies was “a nontoxic irritant.”

Richard Rowe, the chief executive of Arkema’s North American division, told Reuters that the company had expected the chemicals to catch fire.

The Arkema plant manufactures organic peroxides, which are used in making plastic and other materials. When the chemicals warm, they start to decompose, which creates more heat and can quickly lead to a rapid, explosive reaction. Some organic peroxides also produce flammable vapors as they decompose.

The plant was shut down last Friday in anticipation of the storm, and a skeleton crew of 11 was left behind to ensure that the chemicals, which are kept in cold storage, remained safe.

But Arkema said the plant had been without power since Sunday, and the torrential rains and flooding had damaged backup generators. With the storage warehouse warming up, the crew transferred the chemicals to diesel-powered refrigerated trailers, but some of those stopped working as well.

Here is the latest:

• The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression on Wednesday night. It is expected move through central Louisiana on Wednesday night, then move through northeastern Louisiana and northwestern Mississippi on Thursday.

• Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit four locations around Corpus Christi, Tex., on Thursday, to meet with storm survivors, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the trip were still being worked out.

• Officials have reported at least 38 deaths that were related or suspected to be related to the storm. The victims include a police officer who died on his way to work; a mother who was swept into a canal while her child survived by clinging to her; a woman who died when a tree fell on her mobile home; and a family that is believed to have drowned while trying to escape floodwaters in a van.

• More than 32,000 people were in shelters in Texas, and 30,000 shelter beds were available, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said. Houston officials said the city’s largest shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center had 8,000 and was no longer accepting evacuees. New evacuees would be taken to NRG Center, a conference hall in Houston.

• Houston’s two airports reopened, and airport officials said on Wednesday night that United Airlines had boarded a flight from Los Angeles bound for Houston. Five more flights were on their way and three aircrafts were scheduled to leave the Houston area. International flights are expected to resume Thursday.

• The governor said 210,000 people have registered with FEMA for assistance.

• The National Guard has conducted 8,500 rescues since the storm began, Mr. Abbott said, and the police and firefighters in the Houston area have done a similar number. About 24,000 National Guard troops will soon be deployed for disaster recovery in Texas.

• Times journalists are chronicling the storm and its aftermath. Here is a collection of the most powerful photographs, and a guide to our coverage.

• Follow us for more information:

TWITTER= https://twitter.com/SERVPROCenUnion

https://twitter.com/SERVPROWEssex

FACEBOOK=

https://www.facebook.com/SERVPROwessex/

https://www.facebook.com/SERVPROcentunionnj/  

Workplace Fire Prevention

8/29/2017 (Permalink)

A fire can happen anywhere and anytime. Here are some tips on things we can do to help prevent a fire in the common workplace.

  1. Accessibility
    Always ensure accessibility to electrical control panels. Material or equipment stored in front of the panels would hinder the shutdown of power in an emergency. Also, never block sprinklers, firefighting equipment or emergency exits and observe clearances when stacking materials.

  2. Good Housekeeping
    Clutter not only provides fuel for fires, but also prevents access to exits and emergency equipment. Keep your workplace as clutter-free as possible.

  3. Proper Waste Disposal
    Discard fire hazards like oily rags by placing them in a covered metal container and emptying it on a regular basis.

  4. Maintenance
    Make sure the machines in your workplace are properly maintained to prevent overheating and friction sparks.

  5. Report Electrical Hazards
    Unless you are qualified and authorized, you should never attempt electrical repairs. Faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment are key contributors to workplace fires.

  6. Safe Chemical Use & Storage
    Always read the label and the Material Safety Data Sheet to assess flammability and other fire hazards of a substance. When using and storing chemical materials, always do so in an area with adequate ventilation.

  7. Precautions In Explosive Atmospheres
    Follow all recommended and required precautions to prevent ignition in potentially explosive atmospheres, such as those containing flammable liquid vapors or fine particles. These precautions include non-sparking tools and proper static electricity control.

  8. Maximum Building Security
    To help prevent arson fires, always lock up as instructed, report suspicious persons or behavior and never leave combustible garbage outside near your building..

  9. Smoke Areas
    Always ensure that there is a smoke area available and that all workers who smoke on the job are using it. Proper extinguishing of smoking materials should always be enforced.

  10. Fully Charged Fire Extinguishers
    Check fire extinguishers often by looking at the gauges and making sure they're fully charged and ready for use. If they're not fully charged or if the attached tag indicates that the last inspection occurred more than a month ago, call for maintenance. Also, encourage all workers to learn how to use a fire extinguisher.

  11. Emergency Numbers
    Emergency phone numbers, as well as your company address, should be posted by the phone station for quick access.

11.5 OSHA Guidelines
Adherence to OSHA's fire safety guidelines is crucial for fire prevention. Read through these regulations and make sure your workplace is in compliance.

Making sure your workers return home safely is our mission and passion. Take these 11.5 tips to your workplace and practice true fire safety, which begins before the fire even ignites.

If you have any questions or concerns you can always visit our site, and social media pages to learn more about our system services. 

https://www.facebook.com/SERVPROcentunionnj/

https://www.instagram.com/SERVPROcentunionnj/

https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/9499091/

Window Air Conditioner Leaking Water Into House – What To Check – How To Fix

8/9/2017 (Permalink)

Question: I just turned my window AC unit ON today and it is leaking water inside my house. What could be the problem? I had it running for 3 weeks and all of a sudden it started leaking. There is a puddle of water on the window ledge on the inside of the house. Water is on the plastic vent where the cold air blows out. I believe that is where it is leaking but not sure. Can you tell me how to fix this? My carpet is soaking wet, I need this to stop leaking, please help!

Window AC Leaking Water Into House – How To Fix

ANSWER: You are going to check a few things to be sure the ac unit is installed properly and there is no water drainage block present
 Unplug the window AC unit.
 Clean up all the water on the AC unit, on the window ledge, and on the floor of your room.
 Check and be sure the AC is tightly sealed in the window.
 Do you feel warm air coming into the room around the AC unit?
 If you feel warm air coming in you need to seal it correctly.
 Seal in the window AC unit to prevent warm air from entering the room.
 Check to see if the drain holes on the rear of the ac unit are blocked.
 Clean the drain holes to allow water to drip out.
 Make sure the filter is clean and not clogged with massive dirt or dust.
 After cleaning up the water and having it turned off for 30 minutes or so, turn it back on and see if the water appears again.
 If water appears and starts dripping into your room again, check to see if the AC unit is properly sealed in the window.
 If the AC unit is not sealed correctly, the moisture in the air coming in from outside gets condensed by the cold air inside the unit and this extra moisture builds up in AC unit and then leaks.
SO BE SURE IT IS SEALED IN THE WINDOW CORRECTLY.

Here are some other reasons water can drip from a window air conditioner unit:

AIR LEAK – AIR CONDITIONER NOT PROPERLY SEALED IN WINDOW:
If your window air conditioner is not sealed correctly, the warmer air from outside gets inside the air conditioner. When this happens, the moisture that is in the warmer air will be condensed by the colder air inside the air conditioner. When there is excess moisture inside the AC, water will leak. So if this is happening to you, make sure you have a good seal around the window AC.

DRAIN IS BLOCKED – DIRT OR DUST HAS BLOCKED THE DRAIN HOLES:
There are drain holes (drip pan) at the rear of window AC units. They can get blocked from dusty conditions or dirt in the air. When this type of blockage happens, the water that would normally drip out will be trapped and water will leak from the front of the AC unit and at both sides of the unit. Be sure to keep the drain holes clean and free of debris. Also clean the filters or replace them to prevent any type of blockage that may cause a water leak.

OUTSIDE TEMP IS LOWER – HEAVY MOISTURE IN OUTSIDE AIR:
If it is raining or there is heavy moisture in the air outside, water evaporates much less than usual. This leads to excess water moisture in the air conditioner and this will cause water leaks. This is normal for most window AC units and using a drip pan can solve the issue if there is heavy moisture in the air outside.

CONDENSER PUMP NOT WORKING – BROKEN OR CLOGGED PUMP:
If the condenser pump in the AC is faulty or clogged, it will cause water to leak. You can check the condenser/pump if you feel confident. Check for any blockage or loose wires. If the pump seems to be okay visually, you will need to test the pump with a meter to see if it is faulty. If so, you may be better off buying a new AC unit.

The 10 most Common Causes of Rooftop Leaks

8/9/2017 (Permalink)

Let’s face it: No one wants to have to go running for a drip bucket every time it rains. Not only is having to stay on top of the weather forecast annoying and impractical, but that one small drip symbolizes a larger roofing issue – and we all know that roofing issues mean an investment of time and money.

In an effort to save you that investment, we’ve compiled a list of The 10 Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks. We’ll tell you what they look like, why they happen, and how to fix them.

Whether your roof is two years old or twenty keep this list handy. You never know when it could mean the difference between doing a quick repair or a major remodel.

1. Your Flashing Has Cracked

What Does It Look Like: Flashing are thin pieces of metal that are installed under shingles and on the joints of your roof in order to create a water-resistant barrier, which can be concealed or exposed. If exposed, they will look like long runs of sheet metal and, if concealed, they will have a rubberized coating over top. Broken flashing will feature large cracks

Why It Happens: Roofers often use tar to seal the flashing together and that can corrode over time. In the event that your flashing is left exposed, elements like wind and rain could be the reason behind its crack.

How To Fix It: (Via The Family Handyman): Once you locate the source of the leak, pry up the nails used to secure the old flashing. Lift any shingles out of the way and remove the cracked segment. Gently put a new run of flashing in its place, fasten the new flashing in the same pattern as your old piece using roofing nails. Then, apply a coat of roofing sealant to the nail heads.

2. You Have Broken Shingles

What Does It Look Like: Look up! This one is easy to spot. Since shingles are the exterior layer of a roof, you should be able to identify missing shingles by seeing different-colored patches on your roof. Alternatively, you may find the shingles themselves littering your yard after a heavy storm.

Why It Happens: Again, weather. High winds and heavy rains.

How To Fix It: (Via This Old House): Slide a pry bar underneath the row of nails that connects the damage shingle to the one below it. Lift up until the nail pops and then press down on the shingle while you remove the nail. Repeat for the remaining nails. Pull out the damaged shingle, replace it with a new one, and secure it with four new nails.

3. Your Valleys Aren’t Properly Sealed

What Does It Look Like: An area where two planes of roof come together. Since, these areas of the roof are usually sloped, if the valleys are not sealed together properly, rainwater can get inside as it runs down the roof. You can detect a problem by searching for wet spots that run along the seams of your roof.

Why It Happens: A variety of reasons – the sealing may not have been done properly in the first place, it may have cracked when being stepped on, or an excess of rain and ice may have caused it to erode over time.

How To Fix It: This is one of those things that needs to be done by a professional because of its complexity and we do not recommend attempting it on your own. However, your roofer will likely fix the problem by laying a new leak barrier along the valley and shingling overtop.

4. Your Vent Booting Is Cracked

What Does It Look Like: Roof vents are those things that look like small pipes sticking out of the top of your roof. They’re used to expel excess moisture from the inside of the house. Leaks from this area will likely leave corresponding dark spots (and mustiness).

Why It Happens: Roof vents are often sealed by placing some flashing around the opening and slipping a tight, rubber boot over the area where the pipe peeks out of the roof. Over time, the flashing can break or the roof can decay.

How To Fix It: (Via: DIY Guy): Use a knife to remove the rubber around the vent. Use a pry bar to break the seal on any connecting shingles. Slide the new rubber boot under the shingles, over the vent, and bring it down onto the roof. Then, secure the new boot with roofing nails on either side and caulk under the shingles to seal them to the new flashing.

5. You Have Ice Dam Buildup

What Does It Look Like: An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off. The combined weight of the ice itself can damage the roof, as well as the water just sitting on the roof’s surface.

Why It Happens: The heat from your attic (and the rest of your house) is above freezing, which causes some of the snowfall to melt, despite the cold temperatures outside. The water will then run between the roof’s surface and the snow and will refreeze into ice once it hit’s the roof’s exterior edge.

How To Fix It: Invest in a roof rake, which looks like a sideways shovel with a long handle, and use it too reach up onto the roof and remove at least the lower four feet of snow from the roof edge. If you see an ice dam forming, consider treating it with an ice melt product, according to manufacturer’s directions.

6. Your Skylights Were Improperly Installed

What Does It Look Like: Leaks from this kind of problem should be super easy to spot. If you find yourself noticing wet spots or consistently needing to place drip buckets around the sides of your skylights, you’ve found the cause. However, leaks and wet spots near the top of the skylight may be a flashing issue instead.

Why It Happens: There are two main causes for this type of leak. Improperly measuring and fitting the skylights upon installation or decayed insulation along the skylights edges.

How To Fix It: Clear any debris off of the skylight and check for cracks in the window itself. Seal any cracks with a layer of clear silicone along its length, if necessary. If that is not the cause, check the surrounding flashing and replace as needed.

7. Your Gutters Are Clogged

What Does It Look Like: You may be able to see the leaves sticking out of the gutter when you look up onto your roof. But, if not, you should notice the lack of water trickling out of a downspout during a rainstorm.

Why It Happens: Your gutters are meant to help water travel away from the roof. When a blockage forms and they get clogged, that travel stops. Rainwater will then pool in one area of the roof and have more of an opportunity to seep through cracks.

How To Fix It: Sorry, there’s no easy answer to this one. Get up on a ladder, and get in there with your hands. Many recommend placing a large tarp underneath the area where you are working. That way, you can drop any debris as you go and wrap it up for easy disposal later.

8. You Have A Cracked Chimney

What Does It Look Like: Most often, you can look for signs of wear and tear along the mud cap, or mortared area around the top of the chimney. You should also look for any holes in the mortared joints where the chimney connects with the roof. Also, be on the lookout for loose flashing and shingles in the surrounding area.

Why It Happens: Mortar is essentially just a thick mixture of water, sand, and cement. It erodes easily in harsh weather conditions.

How To Fix It: In some cases, all you need to do is find the source of the leak and replace the missing mortar. However, since the materials used for chimney repairs are different than those for standard roofing fixes, it is recommended that you hire a professional handle the repairs.

9. There’s Condensation In Your Attic

What Does It Look Like: A leak is most likely coming from your attic if the space shows signs of mold growth or mildew. A strong, musty odor  emanating from the attic is also a key that water has gotten inside.

Why It Happens: As the uppermost part of your home, the attic is trapped between indoor and outdoor temperatures. When those clash – think hot summers and cold winters – condensation will form and moisture will follow.

How To Fix It: First, treat any mold growth. Then, take the time to isolate your attic to prevent large fluctuations in temperature. Make sure that all of the roof vents are clear from the interior end and install a large ventilation fan, if needed.

10. You’re Using It Too Much

What Does It Look Like: Unfortunately, there is no way to differentiate if this is the cause of the leak. However, all homeowners should be careful with how often they venture out on to their roofs.

Why It Happens: As you can see from the other causes in this post, a lot of roofing material is very fragile. You may accidentally step on a crucial element or crack an already precarious seal.

How To Fix It: Avoid walking on your roof whenever possible. Let that Frisbee go and buy a new one. Hire a professional roofer to do your fixes, since they are trained on how to avoid the most easily-damaged areas.

Whether you have an old roof, new roof, or even a fancy green rooftop, wear and tear is unavoidable. There will be rainstorms, long winters, and heavy winds. But, roof leaks? They are a different story. With the right care regimen, every roof should have the ability to keep your family warm and dry for decades. As you work on home maintenance, refer to this list of the 10 most common causes of roof leaks. You’ll be glad you did when catching a leak early saves you time and money.

Sound The Alarm Save a Life

8/9/2017 (Permalink)

In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to recruit 35,000 volunteers to install 100,000 free smoke alarms across the country as part of Sound the Alarm – a series of lifesaving home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events happening September 23 - October 15. 

Sign up now to Sound the Alarm about home fires, and make a difference today!

I hope you’ll be a part of this important effort. Home fires disproportionately harm children and seniors, and most deaths occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms. That’s why the Red Cross started the Home Fire Campaign in 2014 – to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by fires in homes by 25 percent. Seven Americans die every day from fires in their homes. By signing up as a volunteer to Sound the Alarm this fall, you can help save those lives. 

Did you know that 90 percent of the Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts are carried out by volunteers? 

These volunteers are friends and neighbors who care about their community – people just like you. They are a diverse group, but they all share one thing: They know how deeply rewarding it can feel to make their town a safer place to live, and how delightful it can be to get to know their neighbors in the process. 

Since we first launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014, our volunteers have achieved so much: installing 941,916 smoke alarms, educating 884,007 youth about fire safety, and saving hundreds of lives. 

Sound the Alarm is part of this ongoing Home Fire Campaign, and if you join us as one of those 35,000 volunteers this fall, we can bring the total number of free smoke alarms we’ve installed as part of our Home Fire Campaign since 2014 to one million!

Sign up now to find an installation event in your community and help save a life in the process! We’re counting on volunteers like you to step up, install more smoke alarms, educate their communities about fire safety, and have fun exploring new neighborhoods and getting to know one another. 

The life you help save could be that of the neighbor down the street or your own family across town. 

Thank you for everything you do – it really does make a difference. 

Sincerely,

Lauri Rhinehart
VP, Humanitarian Services
American Red Cross  

P.S. If you're unable to volunteer, you can still make a meaningful difference by fundraising for this cause or making a financial gift today.

Easy Fix for a Leaky Toilet

8/9/2017 (Permalink)

Everything should be as reliable as a toilet. It's not unusual for one to last more than 40 years with only a minimal amount of care. But, occasionally, water will begin to leak out from under the toilet and spill onto the floor, which can lead to serious water damage. But this type of leak is easy to diagnose and fix, even if you've never attempted a plumbing repair.

The leak is usually caused when the seal under the toilet fails. Even if this hasn't happened to one of your toilets yet, this "Home Care" is for you. You'll learn how to install a new wax gasket to create a watertight seal between the toilet and the closet flange and install a new flexible water-supply tube.

Finding the Problem
Water pooling around the base of the toilet is a good indication that the wax seal has failed. But in some cases the problem lies elsewhere. Soak up the water from the floor with a sponge and dry off the toilet with a towel. Wait until a new puddle appears on the floor, then check to make sure the water is seeping out from under the toilet and not coming from a loose supply tube, faulty shutoff valve, cracked tank or sweaty bowl.

If water is leaking from beneath the toilet, you might be able to stop it by simply tightening the closet bolts that secure the toilet to the floor. Use a putty knife or slotted screwdriver to pry off the caps that are covering the bolts. Then use a wrench to alternately tighten each bolt, a little at a time. Be careful not to apply too much pressure; you can crack the toilet's base.

If you're lucky, the leak will stop. If tightening the bolts doesn't help, you'll have to remove the toilet and replace the wax gasket.

Removing The Toilet

Disconnect the water supply tube from the shutoff valve using a wrench. Be sure the valve is closed all the way.

The first step is to turn off the water at the shutoff valve, which is usually located behind the toilet, or in the basement or crawl space directly below it. Turn the handle all the way in a clockwise direction.

Remove the tank lid, flush the toilet and hold down the handle to drain as much water as possible from the tank. Use a sponge to get up the remaining water in the tank; a small paper cup will help you remove any water left in the bowl.

Next, disconnect the water-supply tube by loosening the compression nut on the shutoff valve (step 1). Pry the caps from the closet bolts, then use a wrench to remove the nuts (step 2). If either bolt spins as you turn the nut, hold the top of the bolt with needlenose pliers.

Grab the rim of the bowl directly below the seat hinges, and gently rock the toilet back and forth to break the wax seal. Lift the toilet off the floor (step 3) and lay it on a blanket or piece of cardboard. Use a narrow putty knife to scrape off the old wax gasket from the bottom of the toilet and from the closet flange in the floor (step 4).

Check the condition of the flange to make sure it isn't cracked or bent. After we scraped off the wax, we discovered that a large piece of the flange had broken off. If this happens, you can replace the entire flange (no easy task), install a full replacement flange or fill in the missing piece with a repair strap. We opted for the easiest, least expensive option and used the Gapper Flange Repair Strap (about $5) from Jones Stephens Corporation.

To install the curved metal strap, first loosen the two screws that secure the flange to the floor. Insert a new closet bolt into the slot in the strap, then slide the strap under the flange (step 5). Tighten the flange screws to lock the strap in place. Install the remaining closet bolt in the flange. If the bolts won't stand upright, pack a little wax from the old gasket around the base of each one.

Take a new wax gasket and set it down on the closet flange, making sure it's perfectly centered (step 6). Most wax gaskets are simply a ring of solid wax, but we used Harvey's Bol-Wax No. 5 (about $5). This one has wax surrounding a core of soft urethane foam, and it easily conforms to the flange and toilet to create a superior seal.

Replacing The Toilet

Pry off the rounded caps that cover the closet bolts, then use a wrench to remove the hex nuts.

If the toilet is fitted with an old chrome-plated copper supply tube, consider replacing it with a new flexible one made of stainless steel-enmeshed polymer. It makes the installation a whole lot easier, and it will virtually last forever. We installed a 12-in.-long Fluidmaster supply tube (about $5); other lengths are available ranging from about 8 to 24 in.

Apply a light coating of pipe-joint compound to the fitting at each end of the supply tube, then tighten one end onto the fill-valve shank protruding from the bottom of the toilet tank (step 7).

You're now ready to set the toilet back in place. Grip the bowl near the seat hinges, lift up the toilet and walk it over to the flange. Set the toilet down onto the wax gasket, using the closet bolts as guides. Slip the washers over the bolts and thread on the nuts. However, before tightening them, press down on the rim of the bowl with all your weight to compress the gasket (step 8).

Check to make sure the toilet tank is parallel with the back wall. Alternately tighten each closet bolt until both feel snug. Then, press down on the bowl again and tighten the nuts a little more. Continue in this manner until the nuts no longer feel loose after you press down on the toilet. Again, be careful not to exert too much pressure with the wrench or you'll crack the toilet. Use a hacksaw to cut the closet bolts nearly flush with the nuts (step 9), then snap on the bolt caps.

Your final step is to tighten the loose end of the water-supply tube to the shutoff valve (step 10). Open up the valve and flush the toilet several times. If a leak occurs, press down on the bowl and tighten the nuts a little more. If it isn't leaking, use the toilet for a couple of weeks, then pry off the bolt caps and retighten the nuts. The toilet will often settle after several uses.

The Caulk Question
There's a long-standing debate in the plumbing world over whether you should caulk around the base of a toilet. Most plumbers don't because they're concerned that the caulk would conceal any leaks. However, in some municipalities, the local building code requires homeowners to caulk around the toilet to keep bacteria from growing in the joint.

Check with your building department for the code requirement in your town. If you do decide to caulk, be sure to use a high-quality, mildewproof tub-and-tile caulk.

Step by Step

Very carefully lift the toilet by the bowl, not the tank, and set it down on an old blanket or cardboard sheet.

1. Disconnect the supply tube from the shutoff valve using a wrench. Be sure the valve is closed and the toilet is drained.

2. Pry off the rounded caps that cover the closet bolts, then use a wrench to remove the hex nuts.

3. Very carefully lift the toilet by the bowl, not the tank, and set it down on an old blanket or cardboard sheet.

4. Scrape off all of the old wax gasket from the closet flange. Note that a section of the flange is broken off.

5. Slide a repair strap under the closet flange after loosening the screws that secure the flange to the floor.

6. Set the new wax gasket down on the closet flange, making sure it's centered. Note: Both closet bolts are in place.

7. Connect the new water-supply tube to the threaded fill-valve shank on the bottom of the toilet tank.

8. Press down on the toilet bowl rim to compress the gasket. Tighten the closet bolts, then press down again.

9. Use a close-quarter hacksaw to trim off the tops of the closet bolts. Tighten the nuts before replacing the caps.

10. Connect the supply tube to the shutoff valve. Then open the valve, flush the toilet and check for leaks.

How to Filter Rainwater for Drinking

8/9/2017 (Permalink)

How to Filter Rainwater for Drinking

Believe it or not, rainwater can be filtered into the best-tasting, freshest water you’ve ever had.  In some states, there are literally thousands of homes that rely on rainwater for their sole water supply, and thousands more homes that utilize rainwater for the majority of their watering needs.  

But care must be taken. While rainwater is filtered naturally through solar distillation, some not-so-fresh things happen to the rain on the way back down -- especially once the rain hits our roofs and collects all the organic material (animal feces and all) that collects there.  To return the rain to a potable state once again, there are some time-tested, effective methods we can use for filtration: There’s the short-term fix (great for emergency water situations) and the long-term rainwater filtration method (great for utilizing rainwater for your water needs).  Here’s an overview of both:

THE SMALL-SCALE, SHORT-TERM, SIMPLE METHOD 

If you live in a rural area and rely on a well (and, more importantly, on electricity to provide power to your well pump), or if you are on a municipal water supply and want to have a back-up water source for emergency preparedness, you may want to consider having a short-term filtration solution on hand.  In this case, we recommend ultra-filtration units.  LifeStraw, in our opinion, is the best, most affordable example of this.  Ultra-filtration and/or forward-osmosis technology operates on the principle of reducing a filtration element to such a fine degree that 99.9999% of water-born bacteria cannot pass through, thus making the water that passes through the filter safe for drinking.  In fact, ultra-filtration is so effective that no other filter is needed.

The disadvantage of ultra-filtration, though, is the scale at which this filter can be used. It is great for emergency situations, but for household water options, this method has its limitations.  

 

RAINWATER FILTRATION FOR HOUSEHOLD APPLICATIONS

If you want to utilize rainwater for your home and are looking to install larger-scale filtration, there are a few steps to follow to ensure a fresh, clean, efficient system.  (CAUTION: It is tempting to cut out one or two of these steps, but, in so doing, you’ll put more burden on the other steps and will create more work for yourself down the road.  After working on rainwater systems of all types for a decade, we’ve learned that lesson the hard way.)

  1. First flush filtration: Because the majority of bacteria enters rainwater from a roof and gutter system (where the water picks up fecal matter from squirrels, birds, etc., as well as other organic matter), pre-filtration is a VITAL step in creating and storing a fresh water supply.  First, you’ll want to consider installing first flush filters.  A first flush filter works under the principle that the most contaminated water is the first bit of water that falls from a roof during a rain event (because this is the water that’s flushing off the fecal matter and organics). Please note that the downpipe component on first flush filters should be sized according to the type of roof you have (e.g., asphalt shingle roofs will need more first flush diversion -- and therefore a larger downpipe on the first flush filter -- than metal roofs because they are more gritty and it takes longer for fecal matter to be cleaned from the surface from a rain event).  For roofs that in a clean environment (i.e., not many trees/birds around), it is recommended to flush 12.5 gallons/1,000 sq. ft. of roof area.  For roofs that are more susceptible to organic material and/or roofs with asphalt shingles, a flushing of 50 gallons/1,000 sq. ft. of roof is recommended.

  2. Pre-tank filtration: Next, you will want to consider a tank pre-filter for your system.  While there are many on the market (and several in our store), a lot of the options available are designed for commercial and industrial applications and are not always cost-effective (or even efficient) for residential-scale systems.  In fact, we generally recommend our precast concrete roofwasher to Ohio-region customers as an affordable and highly effective pre-tank filter -- and concrete roofwasher actually has a first flush filter built into it, so it takes care of the first two filtration steps in one unit.  We also have a plastic roofwashing filter available. Even doing something as simple as installing downspout filters can be an effective means of drastically improving your water quality BEFORE it enters your tank.

  3. In-tank filtration:  In-tank filtration is simple to do and can have a big impact on overall water quality.  First rule of thumb is to try to plumb your tank inlets so that they go down inside your tank and empty at the bottom.  Consider putting concrete blocks around the inlet pipe at the bottom of the tank, or install a 90-degree elbow fitting on the pipe.  Doing so act as a “force breaker” and will reduce turbidity in the water, thereby maintaining sediment zones in the tank.  Sedimentation will be most heavily concentrated on the very bottom and on the very top of the water in a given cistern, so if we can reduce turbidity in the water and draw the water from the middle of the water level (using a floating cistern filter), we’ll get the cleanest water from our system.  

  4. Activated carbon: All water will carry with it its own taste and odor, and rainwater is no exception.  To get the best water quality possible, as well as the best tasting water, a granulated activated carbon (or “GAC”) filter is a must for any system.  As a homeowner, you would have the option of going with a simple GAC cartridge filter, or a more thorough and larger household GAC unit. 

  5. Sediment filtration:  Any remaining sedimentation in the water should be filtered out as thoroughly as possible.  Sediment size is measured in microns -- the higher the micron reading, the larger the particulate.  In some states, all rainwater systems that are used for drinking water must be filtered down to at least 5 microns (which is small enough to filter out cysts from the water).  When we are putting in drinking water systems from rainwater tanks, we generally install a two- or three-stage sediment filtration system, starting with a 20-30 micron filter, followed by a 5 micron filter.  When installing sediment filters, always put the higher micron element first, followed by the second highest and so on.    

  6. UV Sterilization: The final step in any rainwater filtration system needs to be disinfection (killing bacteria) or sterilization (sterilizing bacteria so that it cannot reproduce, thereby rendering it harmless).  Even after filtering the water down to 5 microns, bacteria can still be present in the water.  While many rainwater systems use chlorine to disinfect the water, our preferred method for bacteria filtration is ultra-violet sterilization.  We strive for the best possible water quality, and adding chlorine to the water, in our experience, does not lend itself to this end.  UV sterilizers, by contrast, offer a very safe and extremely effective result.  However, UV lamp sleeves need regular (usually every 3 months) cleaning to ensure that the UV light penetrates the water fully.  Cleaning is not difficult and, with all of the above filtration steps in place, can be a very quick process (under 5 minutes).  

Business Safety

7/31/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Safety Tips for the Workplace 


No matter type of business you conduct at your workplace, fire safety should always be a main concern. Here are a few fire safety tips you can distribute to your staff.

Fire Prevention

  • Keep your work area free of waste paper, trash and other items that can easily catch fire.

  • Check on your electrical cords. If a cord is damaged in any way, replace it. Try not to lay cords in places where they can be stepped on, as this will contribute to deterioration of the protective outside coating.

  • Don't overload your circuits.

  • Turn off electrical appliances at the end of each day.

  • Keep heat producing equipment away from anything that might burn. This includes copiers, coffee makers, computers, etc.
      

In the Event of a Fire

    • Upon finding a fire, call 911 immediately and don't hand up with the emergency responder until told to do so.

    • Close doors when exiting to help limit the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building.

    • Never use elevators during an evacuation. 

    • Follow the escape plan and meet at a per-determined place outside of your building and away from danger. Conduct a headcount to ensure all of your staff has evacuated.

The best way to ensure the safety of your staff is through fire prevention and preparation. Talk with your staff about fire safety in the workplace today. 

Statistics on Main Causes of Fires

7/31/2017 (Permalink)

Unfortunately we all know for a fact that fires happen. As much precaution as we take to prevent them, they happen! So then what are the main causes of fires starting? The U.S. Fire Administration estimated that the leading reported causes of fires in non-residential buildings for 2013 was due to cooking materials (29.3%), intentional (9.7%), and carelessness (9.2%). However, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) broke down the statistics on the main causes of fire in healthcare, educational, and commercial properties.

Healthcare

In the healthcare arena, the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 6,240 structure fires during 2006-2010.

  • 61% of fires were due to cooking equipment
  • 7% of fires were due to clothing equipment
  • 6% of fires were started intentionally

While cooking equipment seemed to have been the leading cause of fires, nursing homes were more likely to have fires involving clothes washer & dryer. And facilities providing care of those with developmental disabilities, mental illness or substance abuse had more fires that were intentionally set.

Education

In the educational arena, during 2007-2011 an estimated average of 4,060 structure fires per year were reported in educational facilities. And an estimated 700 structure fires per year were reported in college classrooms and adult education centers.

  • 13% of fires began in a kitchen or cooking area
  • 49% of fires were started intentionally
  • 32% occurred in the lavatory or bathroom

Most fires in educational properties occurred in nursery, elementary, middle, or high schools.

Commercial

In the commercial arena, an estimated average of 3,700 fires in hotels were reported to the U.S. fire departments during 2006-2010. And the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,340 fires in offices during 2007-2011.

In Hotels:

  • 45% of fires were due to cooking equipment
  • 10% of fires were due to smoking material
  • 9% of fires were due to heating equipment

Nearly three-quarters of fires in hotels didn’t spread beyond their origin. However, fires that began in a bedroom were responsible for 31% of civilian injuries and 72% of civilian deaths. Smoking materials were the cause of the fire in 79% of civilian deaths.

In Office Buildings:

  • 29% of fires were due to cooking equipment
  • 12% of fires were due to electrical and wiring equipment
  • 11% of fires were due to heating equipment

Although cooking equipment was the leading cause of office fires, it only accounted for just 6% of the direct property damage. Electrical and lighting equipment caused 15% of direct property damage, while fires that were intentionally set caused 20% of direct property damage.

All in all cooking and electrical equipment, carelessness as well as fires set intentionally, are the main causes of fire. So what can you do to prevent fires from happening? Be cautious when using electricity or any kind of heating equipment and make sure your passive fire protection system (fire/smoke dampers, fire doors, and firestop) are inspected and tested to help ensure that your building as well as its occupants are safe in case of a fire.

How to Prevent House Fires

7/31/2017 (Permalink)

We have developed a list of the most common causes of fire-related losses as well as some things you can do to help prevent them.

Faulty Wiring and Outlets Are One of the Top Causes of House Fires.

  • Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying, and replace all frayed wires.
  • Do not pinch or cover electrical cords with items such as rugs.
  • Be aware of the capacity of your home's electrical system. Do not overload your circuits. If you have questions about your home's electrical system, you may want to consult a licensed electrician.
  • Understand the difference between surge protectors and power strips—both allow you to plug in multiple electronic devices, but only the surge protector will help protect these devices from a power spike. Use surge protectors to protect valuable electronic devices, such as computers and televisions.

Carelessness in the Kitchen May Also Lead to a House Fire.

  • Never leave your pots or pans unattended on your stove.
  • Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it.
  • Keep your stove and oven clean. Built up food splatter or grease can later ignite when the stove or oven is turned on for cooking.

Clothes Dryers Are Another Common Source of House Fires.

  • If you are installing your own dryer vent, follow the directions in the manufacturer’s installation instructions, using the recommended duct material. If you are unsure about how to properly install the vent, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Clean out the dryer vent regularly.
  • Clean out the lint filter after each load.
  • Lint may also collect under and behind your dryer, so do not forget to clean these areas.

Alternative Heating Sources May Also Create a Fire Hazard.

  • Avoid using an older space heater, as it may not have adequate safety features compared to newer units. When purchasing a new space heater, ensure it is UL Listed and pay attention to the safety features.
  • Do not place a space heater near furniture, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire.
  • If you plan to install an alternative heating system, such as a wood or pellet stove, follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you are unsure about how to properly install the system, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Before installing a wood or pellet stove, check to ensure it complies with the laws of your state and municipality.

Dirty Chimneys Also Pose a Fire Hazard.

  • Have your chimney inspected annually by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep. Have a professional clean and repair the chimney as needed, especially before the cold months, when you will be using it frequently.
  • Use seasoned wood only. Never burn green or damp wood.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or trees in your fireplace—these can all spark chimney fires.

Why Carpet Maintenance is Important in The Workplace

7/31/2017 (Permalink)

Maintenance Protects your Investment Flooring is a substantial investment —one you’ll want to protect for years to come. After all, the longer your flooring lasts, the less it costs. The initial cost for floor covering materials and installation does not fully encompass your total floor covering investment. The life cycle cost also factors in life expectancy of the carpet, costs for removal/disposal, lost revenues during renovations and maintenance costs over the life of the carpet.

Good maintenance helps protect your total flooring investment.

Maintenance Helps Carpet Last Longer and Cost Less Proactive, regularly scheduled maintenance removes soil before it can build up and damage carpet fibers. This can actually extend the life of the carpet, reducing the costs of restoration, replacement and disposal. Reactive maintenance cannot fully restore a carpet to a like-new appearance. This results in shorter carpet life and higher carpet life cycle costs.

Maintenance Is Good for the Environment

Our life cycle analysis of carpet shows that the overall environmental footprint of carpet is reduced by increasing the amount of time a carpet remains on the floor. A consistent, proactive maintenance program can significantly improve the appearance retention throughout the life of the carpet. Less carpet waste going to landfills is always good for the environment.

Creating a Carpet Maintenance Program

Once the importance of proper carpet maintenance is understood, we can create a comprehensive maintenance program for you.

Step 1: Make Preventive Maintenance a Priority Preventing soil from entering the environment is easier and less expensive than removing it from the carpet.

Here are five simple but important steps in a preventive maintenance program:

Keep Outside Areas Clean Outside maintenance helps minimize immediate sources of soil. The cleaner you keep sidewalks, parking lots, garages and other areas around the perimeter of your building, the less dirt that will be tracked inside.

Use Soil Barriers Walk-off mats, grates and removable elevator carpets help collect soil before it can be tracked throughout the building. Be sure soil barriers are large enough to allow for at least five steps across.

Vacuum daily, clean frequently and change often for best results. Protect Desk Areas Chair pads under desk chairs prevent casters from crushing carpet and grinding in soil. Specify eating, drinking and smoking areas By restricting these activities to limited areas, you can help confine certain difficult kinds of soil.

Maintain your HVAC System To remove many airborne particles before they are recirculated, regularly replace or clean filters on air-handling equipment. Airborne soil includes industrial wastes, auto emissions, tobacco smoke and pollen.

Step 2: Manage Soil with Regular Vacuuming Vacuuming is the most important dry soil management procedure. Effective vacuuming removes dry soil so that it cannot spread to other carpeted areas.

The level of effective vacuuming has two components: frequency and equipment type. Vacuuming Frequency

• Heavy- to moderate-traffic areas (entrances, elevator lobbies, reception areas, busy corridors, cafeterias, vending machine areas, employee lounges) should be vacuumed daily.

• Light-traffic areas (offices, conference rooms) should be vacuumed at least two to three times per week. Equipment Type

• Dual-motor vacuums are very effective machines for thoroughly cleaning heavy- to moderate traffic areas. This vacuum uses two motors to clean. One motor drives a beater-brush bar that knocks dirt loose, while the second motor provides suction that pulls dirt into the vacuum bag.

• Single-motor vacuums can be very effective machines depending upon their design. For the most part, they should only be used in light-traffic areas. They are generally less powerful than dual-motor vacuums, but easier to maneuver around furniture.

• Detail vacuums can be used to clean around the edges of a room or in confined areas around furniture.

• Carpet sweepers may be used to remove larger particle-sized surface dirt and small litter in high-visibility areas during the business day. However, they are not an effective cleaning method and should not take the place of thorough vacuuming.

The Carpet and Rug Institute has identified vacuum cleaners that meet industry criteria for removal efficacy, particulate emission and carpet damage.

Step 3: Promptly Remove Spills and Stains Although spills are inevitable, permanent stains do not have to be. Most stains can be avoided or removed by immediate, or at least same-day, treatment. It is good practice to have spot and stain removal products and equipment on hand for immediate use.

Correct identification of spots and stains is the first step in proper removal because some types of spills may require special cleaning solutions and techniques.

But for most spills, the basic removal procedure is the same:

1. Blot as much of the spill as you can with an absorbent towel. Always work toward the center of the spill. Do not rub! If the spill is solid or semisolid, gently scrape off what you can using a dull knife.

2. Apply a general-purpose carpet spotter to the spill. This is a detergent solution that is specially made for use on carpets. Never use other kinds of cleaning solutions, such as bleach. These may permanently damage the carpet.

3. Tamp or pat in the carpet spotter with a tamping brush.

4. Wait three minutes, then blot again.

5. Rinse with clean water, then blot as dry as possible. If the stain remains, repeat the entire process. If the stain persists after the second time, contact us here at SERVPRO of Central Union County.

Step 4: Renew your Carpet with Proactive, Periodic Cleaning Even the most effective, consistent vacuuming may leave some soil behind.

Periodic cleaning improves the appearance and extends the life of carpet. Periodic cleaning also removes oily, sticky soil from the carpet that attracts and holds additional soil. Depending on soiling conditions and other factors, there are a number of available cleaning methods. Your choice of method should be based on what will be the most effective and compatible with your carpet and its traffic levels.

Why Regular Carpet Cleaning is Important

7/31/2017 (Permalink)

Carpet cleaning can be a bothersome chore. However, the reward of restoring the freshness and beauty back to our carpets is very often worth the efforts. Carpets without proper cleaning quickly lose its beauty in due time. The soiling of carpets can unfold rather fast, even with regularly vacuuming and spot cleaning. Let’s take a look at the main reasons why carpet cleaning is so important.

It prolongs the life span of the carpet.

Vacuuming does help but there are dirt and grime that sinks deep within the fibers. They become hard to clean. They even make the carpet look old and discolored. Regular carpet cleaning in intervals of 12 to 18 months sustains longer life span. It also maintains the beauty of the carpet as if it is only several months old since purchased.

It removes stains, restoring the carpet back an unblemished state.

Carpet stains often mar the look of a carpet and make our living space less pleasant-looking. Carpet stains appear all the time from the dirt carried inside from the soles of shoes, to spilt coffee, wine and other drinks, to pet accidents and more. Deep carpet cleaning can separate the dirt from the carpets, bringing it back to an unblemished and pleasant-looking state.

It lessens pollutants.

The carpet is an effective trap of various particles. Dirt, dust, pet dander, and insect allergens are regulars of home carpet. Regular carpet cleaning helps lessen or completely eliminate these pollutants. The use of special sanitizers like carpet shampoo kills the bacteria from these particles. Would you believe that the average home toilet seat is cleaner than the average home carpet?

It prevents insect infestation.

There are insects that are hard to notice when they are on the carpet’s surface. Sometimes, adaptive coloration makes cockroaches and mites to stay on it until they release eggs. They also leave body fragments like shed skin. With regular carpet cleaning, you do not clean the carpet alone but also kills insects and prevents possible infestation.

It eliminates bad odor.

The dust, insects, urine and various pollutants on the carpet emit foul odor. They also increase the chances that some organisms like bacteria and fungi will soon thrive on the carpet. The bad odor is itself a sign of an unhealthy environment. Regular carpet cleaning will not only eliminate bad odor. It will also hinder these harmful organisms from being carpet mainstays.

It contributes to overall home appeal.

A well-maintained and regularly cleaned carpet is a sign of a well-maintained home. It leaves an impression that the homeowner is careful and meticulous of how his house looks and appeals to his guests. More often than not, a clean home carpet reflects that other things and other parts within the house also shows equal cleanliness.

It protects your investment

Regular carpet cleaning treats your carpet as a great investment. It doesn’t matter how cheap or how expensive you’ve bought it. This is an effort that maintains beauty, color, and the pattern or designs of your carpet longer than you could imagine. It can even make your carpet a legacy passed to your children.

Summary & Next Steps

Regular home carpet cleaning should not be taken for granted. Summing up, the importance it brings comes down to adding beauty wherever that may be.

Manual (hand wash) carpet cleaning of homes can be a tedious, if not impossible process. Fortunately, there are many models of home carpet cleaning machines that allow the process to be much easier.

On top of your own carpet cleaning routines, you may also consider engaging qualified professional cleaning services for an expert review of your carpets. Here at SERVPRO Central Union County we have the most up to date equipment to do a job well done. You can always give us a call for professional advice on the matter at hand.

Water Damages

7/31/2017 (Permalink)

Water damage can be deceptive. Water penetrates into structural cavities creating trapped pockets of saturation. The detection of water in these areas can often only be discovered with sophisticated moisture detection meters. Undetected moisture will continue to cause damage. This damage, at a minimum, will cause odors. Greater damage will surface when materials delaminate, shrink, split and further deteriorate to where costly repairs are required.

More than just removing excess water, IICRC-certified restorers have the knowledge and equipment to further dry a home or facility (including substructure materials) completely back to preloss conditions. Through timely response and the careful monitoring of water damage, mold and other issues can be prevented.If water damage has been present too long, mold will occur.

All IICRC-certified professionals have the training and experience to identify moisture sources, evaluate mold growth (visible or suspected), contain damage, remove contamination and dry materials to ensure that mold will not return.

Every technician in SERVPRO of Central Union County is Certified through the IICRC, and experienced in their craft.

Be Severe Weather Ready

7/27/2017 (Permalink)

Severe weather can happen any time, anywhere. Each year, Americans cope with an average of the following intense storms:

  • 10,000 severe thunderstorms
  • 5,000 floods or flash floods
  • 1,000 tornadoes
  • 2 landfalling deadly hurricanes

Approximately 98% of all presidential declared disasters are weather-related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $15 billion in damage.* Knowing your risk of severe weather, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared to save your life and assist in saving the lives of others.

Know Your Risk 

The first step to being weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you, your business and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and obtain a NOAA Weather Radio. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.

Take Action

Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a communications plan for your home and business. Put together or purchase an emergency kit. Keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.

Be an Example

Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with co-workers and family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same. Contact your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals for more readiness tips and tools and be “Ready for whatever happens!”

What Happens After a Flood: Mold Remediation

7/27/2017 (Permalink)

LAS VEGAS– (October 1, 2015) – Have you ever wondered what happens when a mold removal specialist gets called to a mold-damaged facility? The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) shares five steps a mold removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation.

“Many people aren’t aware of the dangers, nor the difficulty level of removing mold from a facility,” said IICRC Chairman Tony Wheelwright. “Mold remediation is a potentially hazardous process that should only be undertaken by a certified professional.”

Five steps that each mold-removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation includes:

1. Determine the degree of contamination. The first step for a mold remediation specialist may be to bring in an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) to determine the extent of the mold damage and test for contamination within the facility. Because mold spores and other microscopic contaminants can travel easily throughout a building, the IEP may collect and analyze samples from affected as well as unaffected areas of the building. Once the IEP has finished the inspection they will develop a remediation plan for the mold removal specialist with steps to return the home to its preloss condition (Condition 1).

2. Set up and verify containment. To make sure mold contamination does not spread to other areas of a facility, the mold remediation specialist will set up containment by creating isolation barriers. Once the barriers are set up, the specialist will need to verify the containment with a lower partial pressure differential (negative pressure) to ensure there is no air leakage between containment zones. Exit chambers would then be used to serve as a transition between the containment and the unaffected area of the building. Once the containment is verified and the correct amount of pressure is achieved, the removal process can begin.

3. Remove unsalvageable materials. Porous materials and items that cannot be restored or cleaned effectively must be carefully discarded. Unsalvageable items include but are not limited to drywall, insulation and other items with visible mold growth. It is important for the specialist to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment which may include a full face respirator equipped with a P100/OV cartridge, disposable coveralls and nitrite gloves.

4. Clean surfaces with a high-attention to detail. A mold remediation specialist will likely begin the cleaning process by thoroughly vacuuming the contaminated areas using a HEPA vacuum with a high-efficiency filter to catch mold spores. He or she will then begin a detailed cleaning process involving mold removal tools such as a HEPA filtered sander, followed by the damp wiping of surfaces with an effective cleaning solution.

5. Verify remediation. Once cleaning is complete, the IEP will return to too to verify the remediation was successful. The area must be returned to the dry standard and should be visually dust free with no malodors. In addition an IEP may perform surface or air sampling as part of the verification that the area is back to normal fungal ecology (Condition 1).

“Mold remediation requires mold removal specialists to perform techniques that promote source removal rather than relying on chemicals, paints and coatings as a replacement,” said Rachel Adams, President of Indoor Environmental Management, Inc. “Understanding and managing air flow is also critical to the success of a mold remediation project. Working with qualified IEP can also help to reduce the liability for the technician as well as provide a final determination if the remediation was successful.”

For more information on mold remediation or the latest in mold remediation standards, visit the IICRC website at http://www.IICRC.org. About IICRC The IICRC is a global, ANSI-accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO) that credentials individuals in 20+ categories within the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. Representing more than 54,000 certified technicians and 6,000 Certified Firms in 22 countries, the IICRC, in partnership with regional and international trade associations, represents the entire industry. The IICRC does not own schools, employ instructors, produce training materials or promote specific product brands, cleaning methods or systems. For more information, visit www.IICRC.org.

Importance of Cleaning Dryer Vents

7/27/2017 (Permalink)

Over 15,000 Dryer-Related Fires Each Year

Home and business owners should be taking note: when lint clogs a dryer duct, your building is at risk for fire. Dryer vent cleaning helps to prevent costly fires, reduce dryer downtime—and keep your building’s dryer system functioning properly.

SERVPRO of Central Union County is a cost-effective way to protect the safety of building residents. As part of our service, we remove lint, birds’ nests, small articles of clothing and more from dryer vents in houses, beauty salons, hotels, multi-family living structures and other establishments.

SERVPRO of Central Union County ensures that the full length of the dryer vent is clean when we leave your property.

This may entail cutting additional access points to the dryer vent from the attic, basement—or where ever the dryer vent routes through your home or business. 

Here at SERVPRO of Central Union County no job is too big for us and we are always here to help. We are open 24/7 seven days a week, just for our customer's needs.

THE MOLD MITIGATION & REMEDIATION PROCESS

7/26/2017 (Permalink)

When there’s a water intrusion, like a roof leak or leaking water line, mold can quickly become a problem in your home or business. Mold can affect your health and can also cause significant damage to your property. Fortunately, SERVPRO® of Central Union County Professionals have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem. Although every mold damage scenario is different, requiring a unique solution, the general mold remediation process stays the same. The following steps illustrate a “typical” mold removal process.

Call Your Local SERVPRO® of Central Union County Professionals The mold cleanup and restoration

process begins when you call our SERVPRO’s Call Center. A representative will ask a series of questions to help determine the necessary equipment, resources, and personnel needed.

Inspection & Damage Assessment

Your property will be carefully inspected for signs of mold using technology designed to detect mold and hidden water sources. Mold feeds on cellulose and water which can be hidden from plain view.

Mold Containment

Various containment procedures will be placed to prevent the spread of mold and isolate the contaminated area with physical barriers and negative air pressure to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process.

Air Filtration

Specialized filtration equipment captures microscopic mold spores out of the air. Our SERVPRO® technicians utilize powerful air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums to prevent the spread of these mold spores while the mold remediation is in progress.

Removing Mold & Mold-Infested Materials

 The mold remediation process depends on the amount of mold growth and the types of surfaces on which the mold appears. Antifungal and antimicrobial treatments will be used to eliminate mold colonies and help prevent new colonies from forming. Removing and disposing of mold-infested porous materials, like drywall and flooring, may be necessary to remediate heavy mold growth.

Cleaning Contents & Belongings

SERVPRO® of Central Union County Professionals clean your furniture, decorative items, curtains, and other restorable items affected by mold. They use a variety of cleaning techniques to clean and sanitize your belongings. They are also trained to remove odors and deodorize using fogging equipment.

Restoration

Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, subfloors, and other building materials may be removed. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet, or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business. SERVPRO® of Central Union County Professionals understand mold and mold growth and have the training and equipment to remediate mold in your home or business

How To Identify Mold

7/26/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Testing

Mold testing can tell you if you have a mold problem in your home. Mold tests can also help you find hidden mold, measure your indoor air quality and identify what species of mold is in your home.

Professional Mold Testing

It's best to have mold testing performed for you by a qualified mold professional. Hiring a professional mold tester who is experienced at collecting and analyzing mold samples will always lead to the most accurate results.

Mold Test Kits

You can purchase mold test kits which you can use to collect mold samples yourself. This is a less expensive option than having a mold tester test your home. The samples you collect will be sent away to a professional mold testing laboratory which will get back to you with the results.

A mold test gives you a snapshot of the amount of mold particles in a certain area at a certain time. But the amount of mold spores fluctuates over time and from place to place.

Because of this it's a good idea to test at several different times and in different locations in your home. This way you will get a more complete and accurate picture of the mold problem in your home.

Types of Mold Tests

The three main types of mold tests are:

  • Air testing
  • Surface testing
  • Bulk testing


Ideally you should use all three types of tests since each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Air Testing for Mold

Air sampling tests the concentration of mold spores in your home's air. Samples are taken from the air and are later examined under a microscope.

Air tests can tell you if you have a mold problem even if you cannot find the mold growth. However the amount of mold spores in the air can change drastically in a small amount of time, giving varying results at different times.

Surface Testing for Mold

Surface testing takes samples from household surfaces to find the amount of mold growth and spores deposited around the home. Samples are collected by swabbing, tape lifting or other methods. The sample is then examined in a laboratory.

Like with air testing the results can vary because mold growth and spores aren't spread evenly across surfaces in the home and can change over time. Unlike air testing though, surface tests can't identify the exact concentration of mold spores in the air.

Bulk Testing for Mold

Bulk testing involves collecting pieces of material from the home. The material is then taken to a laboratory where mold particles on the material can then be examined under a microscope. Bulk tests can tell you if you have a mold problem and give you an idea of the concentration of mold particles in your home.

Culture Tests for Mold

Culture tests are where mold particles in a sample from the home are grown into larger mold colonies in a lab. This way culture tests identify the species of molds in houses.

Only mold particles that are still alive can be grown. Other tests can detect both living and non-living mold in a home but can't always identify the species of molds.

Why You Should Test for Mold

The main reasons for having mold testing performed in your home are:

  • You notice signs of mold such as a mold smell or mold symptoms
  • To identify the species of mold in your home
  • To help you find where mold is growing
  • To test indoor air quality by measuring the amount of spores in the air
  • To test if mold in your home has been fully removed

Mold Signs

One sign you could have mold is a mold smell. If you notice a moldy smell in your home there's a good chance you could have mold hidden somewhere.

Identifying Mold Species

Another reason for mold testing is if you want to find out what kind of species of mold is in your home. This is important for toxic molds since extra caution needs to be taken to safely remove toxic mold from the home.

Two well known toxic molds are Stachybotrys (often called toxic black mold) and Aspergillus.

Mold Testing to Find Mold

Not only can mold testing tell you if you have a mold problem somewhere in your home, but it can also help you to find it.

Mold often grows hidden away behind walls and other places. Mold tests can help you narrow down the location of hidden mold by telling you the places in your home with the highest amount of mold spores.

You can find out places mold commonly grows in the home at Where Mold Grows.

Mold Testing for Indoor Air Quality

You can have mold testing done to tell you the amount of mold spores in the air.

Mold Testing after Removing Mold

Mold testing can be useful after you've had mold removed from your home. Through testing you can make sure that the mold removal was a success.

Surface sampling can show whether an area has been properly cleaned of mold. Having air testing some time after the mold removal can also confirm that mold spores in your home's air have been reduced to a safe level.

There's a guide to removing mold from your home at Mold Removal.

Mold Inspection before Testing

Before you turn to mold testing you should have a thorough mold inspection of your home done. If the inspection turns up mold then usually you don't need to do any mold testing. Instead you can move onto the mold removal stage.

But if you couldn't find any mold but still think you have a mold problem, or if you found some mold but think there is more hidden or that it could be toxic, then it's time to turn to mold testing.

How to Prevent Mold

7/26/2017 (Permalink)

The main things mold needs to grow in a home are organic materials to feed on and moisture. In houses there are always plenty of organic materials for mold to live on such as wood, drywall and various other building materials.

Moisture, on the other hand, can be controlled practically and so keeping the moisture in your home low is the best way to prevent mold growth.

Prevent Mold by Preventing Moisture

Most molds need 24-48 hours of moisture to begin to grow. Therefore if a suitable material in your home is wet for more than 24 hours then you run the risk of mold starting to grow.

Prevent Mold by Preventing Water Leaks

There are a few main things which usually cause moisture problems in the home. One is water leaks. These include things such as leaking roofs or walls, leaking pipes and leaking taps or a leaking shower.

If you know of any leaks in your home you should fix them without delay. You might need to inspect your home to find any water leaks you didn't know about.

Prevent Mold by Preventing Condensation

 

Condensation is another frequent cause of moisture. Condensation forms on cold surfaces when water vapor in the air cools and becomes liquid. Often you'll see condensation on metal pipes, concrete walls, water tanks and windows.

One way to reduce condensation is to keep the temperature warmer in rooms. For example, by installing insulation. You can also insulate the surfaces themselves such as putting coverings over metal pipes. You'll also have less condensation occurring if you keep the humidity in your home low.

 

Prevent Mold by Reducing Humidity


Dehumidifier

Many species of mold can begin to grow from humidity alone if the humidity stays high for long enough. In fact the humidity only needs to be higher than 55% before some molds can begin to grow.

The best way to keep humidity low in your home is through ventilation. Open the windows during the day, especially when it's hot since this is when humidity is usually the lowest outside. Close your windows when it's raining outside though.

It's especially important to ventilate the rooms where steam and moisture builds up, like the kitchen and bathroom. Exhaust fans help to reduce the humidity when doing things like cooking or washing dishes.

Air conditioners can also reduce household humidity, as can using dehumidifiers in your home.

Wet Clothes and Preventing Mold

One common cause of moisture problems in homes is wet clothes. After you've washed your clothes you should immediately dry them. Don't leave them sitting in a wet pile for a long time. Make sure not to leave any wet clothes lying around waiting to be washed too.

It's best to dry your clothes outside on a clothes line if you can. Hanging them inside on a clothes horse or indoor clothes line will not dry them as quickly and the moisture from your clothes will evaporate into the air, raising the humidity. If you dry them in a clothes dryer inside your home then you should exhaust the air outdoors if possible. In either case make sure the room where you're drying your clothes is well ventilated.

Mold and Clothes

Removing Mold

Once mold has begun to grow in your home it's not enough to just take away the mold's moisture source. Mold that runs out of moisture can lie dormant for a long time without dying. So if you already have mold growth in your home you need to take steps to have it removed.

Killing Mold
Mold Removal and Remediation 

Mold Food Sources and Cleaning to Prevent Mold

Mold grows and feeds on organic substances such as wood or cotton. Mold should not grow on surfaces like plastic, metal or glass unless there is a layer of grease or some other organic substance which it can feed on.

 Some materials mold commonly grows on in the home include wood, carpet, food, paper, insulation, wallpaper, paint, wallpaper glue, plasterboard, fabrics, cotton, books, leather, chipboard, furniture, dust, ceiling tiles, inside air conditioners and almost any other organic material.

You should clean regularly to reduce dirt and grime which mold can live on. Dust and vacuum often, ideally with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtered vacuum cleaner to remove dust and other substances that mold can grow off of. It has been found that 80% of mold grows on dust.

For more information about vacuum cleaners and mold visit Vacuum Mold

Minimizing Mold Spores to Prevent Mold

Mold spores are everywhere in the air outside. They float through buildings all the time and there is no practical way to remove all mold spores indoors.

However if the concentration of mold spores inside is significantly higher than outside then it can start to cause health issues. A higher amount of mold spores also increases the potential for mold problems to start.

Mold spores enter homes through windows, doors, air ducts, etc. They can also be transported inside attached to skin, clothing, hair, pets, etc.

Although you cannot eliminate all mold spores inside your home or prevent all mold spores from entering, minimizing the amount of spores will prevent you from suffering mold related health problems and lessen the chance of mold beginning to grow in your home.

To minimize mold spores clean and dust often. Also vacuum your home regularly, preferably with a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove mold spores. HEPA air filters in your home also help remove mold spores from the air. 

Sunlight to Prevent Mold

Mold loves dark spaces indoors to grow in. Allowing sunlight in will reduce the chances of mold growing so open the curtains in rooms during the day to let natural light in. 

Warmth and Preventing Mold

Mold generally does not grow in cold environments. Warm, humid conditions are ideal for mold growth. Most molds need temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) or more to grow.

Air conditioners to regulate the temperature of your house can help prevent mold growth.
 

What to do After a Fire

7/26/2017 (Permalink)

Now that the fire is out, there are a few things you need to know. Here is a check list to follow:

Step 1 - Securing the site

  • Protect the fire site from any further damage by weather, theft or vandalism. Do not leave the site unsecured.
  • If you are the owner it is your responsibility to see that openings are covered against rain and entry. Make sure outside doors to the property can be locked and secured. The Fire Department will help secure the premises until responsibility can be handed over to the tenant or insurance company.
  • If you are the tenant contact your real estate agent or landlord and inform them of the fire. If you cannot contact them and you need professional assistance in boarding the premises, a general contractor for or fire damage restoration firm can help. Check your telephone directory.
  • If you plan to leave the site, try to remove any valuable remaining in the building.
  • Contact your own insurance agent to report the loss.

Step 2- Cautions

  • Household wiring which may have been water damaged should be checked by a licensed electrician before power is turned back on.
  • Check for structural damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be weakened. The local Council's Building Inspector may be able to help.
  • Food, drink and medicines exposed to heat, smoke or soot may be discarded in the appropriate manner.
  • Refrigerators and freezers left unopened will hold their temperature for a short time. However do not attempt to refreeze thawed items.
  • The Fire Brigades will call for the services of the local gas, fuel and electricity suppliers to disconnect services before they leave the site.
  • If a utility (gas, electricity or water) is disconnected, it is your responsibility to have the services checked and reconnected by a licensed trade person. Do not attempt to reconnect the service yourself.
  • Start collecting receipts for any money you spend. These are important because you can use them to show the insurance company what money you have spent relating to your fire loss and also verifying losses claimed.

Step 3 - Insurance Claims

  • Make personal contact with the insurance claims manager.
  • Advise the claims manager of loss or damage and give him, or her, a forwarding address and telephone number if the circumstances have forced you to leave the damaged fire building.
  • The sooner the insurance company is alerted, the quicker the insurance claim can be processed, as the company has to alert the insurance adjuster to carry out the inspection.
  • Try to form an inventory, as soon as possible, of household items either inside or outside the buildings which have been damaged by fire. The inventory of damaged items will further speed the claim when the loss adjuster makes contact. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after the inventory is made by the insurance adjuster.

Step 4 - Leaving your home

  • If you have to leave your home because the fire has left it unsafe, contact the local police. They can keep an eye on the property in your absence.
  • Check with your insurance company to find out whether you are entitled to stay in hotel as part of a temporary housing clause in your policy, or how soon you might get an advance on your eventual insurance claim settlement.
  • Provided it is safe to do so, try to locate the following to take with you:
    • Identification
    • Vital medicines, such as blood pressure regulating drugs or insulin.
    • Eyeglasses, hearing aids, prosthetic devices or personal aids.
    • Valuables such as credit cards, check-books, insurance policies, savings account books, money and jewelry.

Notify these people of your new address

  • Your employer.
  • Family and friends.
  • Your children's schools.
  • Your Post Office. Have them either hold or forward your mail, depending on the length of time you expect to be relocated.
  • Delivery services like newspapers and milk.
  • Telecom and the suppliers of gas, electricity and water.

contact:

SERVPRO of Central Union County at 908-233-7070

We will help to get your life in order after this catastrophic event.

SERVPRO of Central Union County-New Facility!!

7/6/2017 (Permalink)

Community SERVPRO of Central Union County-New Facility!! New Office/Warehouse Location 1094 Globe Ave. Mountainside, NJ 07092

It is official!!! SERVPRO of Central Union County is all moved into our new office/warehouse location: 

1094 Globe Avenue, Mountainside, NJ

 We look forward to serving you; reach out to us at (908)233-9090, or 866-361-3400 Toll Free!

May Is National Building Safety Month

5/11/2017 (Permalink)

Building Safety Month—in its 37th year—is an initiative of the International Code Council (ICC) and their 57,000 members across the world, as well as their partners in building construction and design, and the safety community. Building Safety Month is an opportunity to educate insurance and commercial property professionals, as well as the general public, on “what it takes to create safe, resilient, affordable, and energy-efficient homes and buildings,” according to the ICC website.

The theme for 2017 is Code Officials— Partners in Community Safety and Economic Growth and highlights managing disasters, specifically natural disasters, in week three of this year’s campaign. Some of the topics and tips shared throughout the month include Disaster Safety and Mitigation, as well as Fire Safety and Awareness. The general public may not be aware how codes and code officials “improve and protect the places where we live, learn, work, worship, and play,” and this month can certainly improve that awareness!

IMPORTANT TIPS FROM THE ICC Disaster Safety & Mitigation n

*If you live in a high wind or hurricane prone area and do not have tested and code-approved shutters for protection from windborne debris, consider temporarily protecting your doors and windows by mounting exterior grade, 7/16" minimum thickness plywood and fastening it into place. Visit www.flash.org for detailed instructions on how to use plywood for emergency board-up.

* Consider building or retrofitting to create a tornado-safe room in your home. Follow ICC/NSSA 500 Standard for detailed construction information and to ensure you achieve the highest level of protection for your family.

* In wildfire prone areas, remove fine (dead grass, leaves, etc.) and coarse fuels (dead twigs, branches, etc.) within 30 feet of a building to create a survivable space in case of wildfire. Be sure to remove dry leaf and pine litter from roofs, rain gutters, decks, and walkways. Follow ICC’s International Wildland-Urban Interface Code® for detailed requirements.

*Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet and two feet of water to move an SUV-sized vehicle.

Source: iccsafe.org

US Small Business Administration-Small Business Week

5/1/2017 (Permalink)

General US Small Business Administration-Small Business Week Small Business Administration (SBA) Activity

SERVPRO of Central Union County is certified as a Small Business by the US Small Business Administration (SBA), and by the State of New Jersey and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey as a Small Business Enterprise

Dirty Ducts? Improve your indoor air quality with duct cleaning

4/11/2017 (Permalink)

Building Services Dirty Ducts? Improve your indoor air quality with duct cleaning Over time, different contaminants or foreign objects can enter and collect in your air ducts that may diminish the indoor air quality of your system

Did you know your ventilation system is often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality? Inspecting the ductwork in your facility or home should be a high priority. In most cases, the HVAC system has been operating for some time without much attention. Dirty ducts can circulate odors, contaminants such as mold, and irritating dust throughout  your building or home.


A routine part of your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professional’s service is inspecting the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit (HVAC). Keeping the HVAC and ductwork clean can potentially extend the life-span of the equipment by allowing it to operate at peak condition, which may help save you money. Duct cleaning may not always be necessary.  SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns. This inspection can help save you money and provide peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.


In some circumstances, such as after a fire, smoke, or suspected mold growth, duct cleaning becomes an essential part of the cleanup process. In these cases, your SERVPRO® Franchise Professional can often restore the HVAC system and ductwork to pre-damage condition. 


If you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends they be inspected for proper functioning and be serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.


The SERVPRO® Duct Cleaning System is proven and cost-efficient. Unlike the majority of duct cleaning services, your SERVPRO® Franchise Professional uses a portable ventilation and air duct cleaning system to examine ductwork and make a clean sweep, removing years of dust and grime.



  • The process begins by using patented equipment, including a roto-scraper, which automatically adapts to the duct’s shape and diameter while traveling through the duct, removing debris and filth before vacuuming begins.  

  • Next, a powerful push-pull air delivery and collection system transfers the debris from the ducting to a 16-gallon container.n Air is filtered through a HEPA filtration system, removing 99.97 percent of the particles in the airstream. HEPA filters capture debris and keep the indoor environment clean.

  • As an optional process, a sealant or coating product may be sprayed to address odor or microbial concerns.

  • Filters will either be cleaned or replaced to remove odor and dirt.


For more information on duct cleaning, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today, 908-233-7070!

The Importance of Cleaning Dryer Vents

4/11/2017 (Permalink)

Building Services The Importance of Cleaning  Dryer Vents Fire Prevention

According to FEMA, failure to clean home dryers causes 34% of home dryer fires. Home dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss and can even cause injury or death.


To reduce the risk of these fires happening in your or your insured’s home or business, SERVPRO® can help clean dryer vents and ducts that may have lint buildup.


Other tips for keeping your dryer vents clean from the National Fire Protection Agency include cleaning the lint filter before and after each load, and making sure the outdoor vent flap will open and is not restricted by snow, a bird’s nest, or other potential obstacles.


For more information on cleaning dryer vents contact us at (908)233-7070

Things Your Parents Didn't Tell You About Taking Care of Your Home: Winterizing Your Home

1/6/2017 (Permalink)

Ice dams are a common homeowner’s nightmare in the winter whenever it snows, potentially causing major and costly water damage to your roof and even ceilings. Ice dams occur when snow on the roof melts slightly then refreezes when the runoff reaches the eaves, often in the gutters. When the day warms even slightly, the top layer melts but is unable to drain off properly, resulting in a pool of water up against the base of your roof. The water then often seeps under the roofing material, sometimes as much as 5ft or even 10ft up. Eventually, the water can work its way into your house’s soffits, walls, and even ceilings. When it comes to ice dams, an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure.

 

Essential Maintenance

Thoroughly clean out your gutters and downspout after the last leaves have fallen in your neighborhood, but certainly before the first snows of the season. Water will run more swiftly through cleaned gutters, giving it less time to freeze. Empty gutters also allow more room for ice and water to pool before it starts threatening your roof.

Try to purchase a roof rake or snow rake (a type of rake specially designed for cleaning your roof of snow) before the first snow of the season, then scrape the snow off your roof after each snowfall, or pay someone to come out and scrape the snow for you. This can also help avoid problems with the snow falling suddenly and possibly hitting someone when it comes loose as it melts. Unfortunately, snow rakes only work for single-story homes – they’re not long enough to reach a second floor, and you should never use a roof rake while standing on a ladder. Snow rakes work well if you experience heavy snows only rarely, but can be tedious to use.You will also need to be careful to not damage shingles since they can become brittle in the cold. Specially designed roof rakes are available for clearing snow off solar panels – standard roof rakes should not be used on panels as they can scratch the photorefractive surface.

If nothing else works, heat cables can help prevent ice dams as a fallback measure, especially if installed in the gutters and the downspout. Heat cables run over portions of the roof in a zigzag pattern, melting away ice and snow when turned on and can help if installed on a part of your roof particularly prone to ice dams. They might not prevent ice dams entirely, but heat cables can create enough of a channel for water to drain away, preventing some water damage.

Next time you need to replace your roof, also consider adding a special ice-and-water barrier under the shingles up to 3ft to 6ft from the roof’s edge. It will help with waterproofing, and the building codes in most areas now actually require an ice-and-water barrier to be installed under your roof. Your local building inspector will know how far up the barrier needs to extend in your region.

A Colder Roof

Generally speaking, ice dams form when the surface of your roof is above freezing, but the edges of your roof are below freezing. As hot air leaks from inside your house, it warms up your roof, often just enough to bring it right to the edge of freezing, creating the conditions in which ice dams can form. Many of the methods listed here can also reduce heat leakage, lowering your heating bill.

The average U.S. home loses about one-third of its heat through the ceiling and into the attic, and from there into the outside world. Most of that loss is due to leaks between the conditioned home and unconditioned attic. Unfortunately, air leaks are a hard nut to crack, since you usually have to go into the attic, pull back insulation, and plug any leaks by hand with foam, caulk, or other methods. Leaks usually occur around anything that penetrates the ceiling, like pipes, ceiling fixtures, access hatches, and others. Sealing leaks is ideally a cold-weather project since otherwise your attic will likely be too warm.

Heat loss also occurs through inadequate insulation. How much insulation you need varies depending on where you live. Generally, blown-in cellulose and fiberglass will serve better in colder regions, since they leave fewer gaps. See our article on installing insulation for a more in-depth look at how much and what kind of attic insulation your home needs. You will also want to make sure that any insulation doesn’t block your airflow. Baffles usually prevent blocked airflow, though you will still want to check your soffit vents.

Adding attic ventilation to an unfinished attic will make the attic colder, keeping the roof from heating up. Attic ventilation can be complicated. Generally speaking, you need about 1 sq ft of vent (the actual openings, added together for total vent area) per 300 sq ft of ceiling area (the size of the attic floor), with half of the total vent area low on the roof and half high on the roof. Look at your existing vents to find the area of each (which should be stamped somewhere easily visible), then add the area of your existing vents together to find out how much you still need. Some roof styles are harder to vent than others. When in doubt, contact a qualified contractor for advice and guidance.

Also, whenever you make your home more airtight, double check your combustion appliances, including furnaces and most water heaters, for backdrafts. If your appliance isn’t drafting properly, it could be leaking deadly waste products into your home. If you suspect you might have a problem with back drafting, contact a licensed home inspector to check your house and combustion appliances.

What to Do If a Dam Forms

 

Sometimes even the best preventative measures can’t stop dams from forming. Try to carefully remove any forming ice from your gutters. If you have heat cables, they can also reduce the damage a building ice dam will do. The safest way to remove the ice entirely, though, is to hire a roofing company to use a steamer to remove any ice and snow. A steamer uses hot water at high pressure to melt the ice without risking the damage that an ice pick does.

Bad NJ Winter Weather Forecast Released: Polar Vortex May Return

12/2/2016 (Permalink)

New Jersey and Pennsylvania may be in for another polar vortex weather system that could send temperatures into the record books in late winter and early spring, forecasters say.

And you probably don’t need to be reminded of the bone-chilling nightmare that was the winter of 2013-2014, when record low temperatures extended well into March. It was cold everywhere, and on Jan. 7, 2014, the temperature in every state in the country dipped below 32 degrees, even in Hawaii, where it was 25 degrees. At least 33 deaths were blamed on the record cold.

AccuWeather meteorologist Dean DeVore said it looks like the area could get a one-two punch from a couple of polar vortices.

“If you really delve deep into it there’s actually a couple of vortices,” DeVore told reporters. “One’s in the lower level of the atmosphere, one's in the higher levels. All of that — part and partial — looks like there’s a shift in one of the polar vortices that is expected to happen going into this winter.”

Polar vortices often mean colder temperatures in February and March. Though he expects some periods of extreme cold, DeVore thinks a bigger effect on winter weather will be the change from an El Niño to a mild La Niña system, which is occurring now and is expected to result in a colder, snowier winter, a departure from the last couple of years, he told told WWJ/CBS Detroit.

The prediction would match what was already forecasted by AccuWeather, which recently released its long-range forecast that predicts it will feel like an extended winter for New Jersey and Pennsylvania as cold and snowy conditions will likely stretch into spring 2017.

Frequent storms across the northeastern U.S. — particularly in the Northeast — this winter may lead to an above-normal season for snowfall.

"I think the Northeast is going to see more than just a few, maybe several, systems in the course of the season," AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said in a news release.

Unlike last season, in which most of winter's snowfall came from a few heavy-hitting storms, this winter will last into the early or middle part of spring and will feature frequent snow events.

AccuWeather said much of the accumulation will be in New Jersey, the Philadelphia metropolitan area and south of Washington, D.C. These areas will see a handful of changeover systems, where falling snow transitions to rain and sleet.

The Old Farmer's Almanac, meanwhile, has released its long-range weather predictions for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. If the publication's long-range forecast is accurate, we should expect above-normal temperatures this winter in the central part of the Atlantic Corridor region, which includes New Jersey.

What is a Polar Vortex?

Though the term was only popularized in recent years, polar vortices aren’t anything new. The National Weather Service explains that a polar vortex — a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles — always exists but weakens in the summers and strengthens in the winter.

“The term ‘vortex’ refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Pole,” the Weather Service explained. “Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream. This occurs fairly regularly during wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States.”

Similar outbreaks of extreme cold were also reported in 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1989.

Protect Your Pipes

So, what should you do to get your home and car ready while it’s still relatively mild? Even if the polar vortex doesn’t bring brutally frigid weather, you should take some precautions because the weather will turn colder.

Make sure your plumbing pipes are protected. Pipes freeze under three common scenarios: quick temperature drops, poor insulation and thermostats that are set too low. Some suggestions from the American Red CrossPopular Mechanics and American Home Shield:

  • Check the insulation of pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and the attic, because they’re the most susceptible when temperatures plummet.
  • Wrap pipes in heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables, but be sure they’re approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
  • Use caulk or insulation to seal leaks that allow cold air to flow inside near plumbing pipes. Pay particular attention to leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and the pipes themselves.
  • Disconnect hoses from each spigot on the outside of your house. Drain and store them.
  • Use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This will reduce the chance the short span of pipe just inside the house will freeze.
  • In extreme cold, you may be able prevent your pipes from freezing by allowing a trickle of warm water to drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Leave your thermostat at the same temperature, day and night. Your routine may be to turn the heat down when you go to bed, but when the temperature plummets, which often occurs overnight, your pipes could freeze. Better to have a higher heating bill than costly repairs necessary when pipes freeze and burst.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Another idea is to turn off the main water valve before you leave home, even if you’re going to be gone only for a weekend.

 

Furnace Been Checked Lately?

With the house sealed up, you’ll also want to check these items off your list:

  • Make sure your furnace has been serviced to ensure it is running efficiently and safely.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector and water heater, especially since they could be running on overdrive in freezing temperatures.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the chimney is cleaned and the chimney cap is in place.

What to Do During Power Outage

You should also gather some other items you may need in the case of a power outage — and don’t forget to talk through the emergency plan with your family:

  • Have plenty of matches, candles and flashlights on hand in case the power goes out.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, make sure you have some cut firewood ready in case of an emergency.
  • A few extra gallons of water.
  • Non-perishable food items for you and your pets.
  • Lots of blankets, sleeping bags and comforters.
  • A battery-powered radio.
  • Backup battery for your cell phone and computer
  • A first-aid kit.

Dress for the Cold Regardless

Now, make sure your vehicle is ready to go for the cold months ahead. Here are some tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

  • Have you located the windshield scraper and brush? Find them before you need them.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full during extreme cold situation, so you can stay warm if you become stranded.
  • Dress for the extreme cold, even if you don’t think you’ll be out much.

Graphic courtesy of NOAACar Emergency Survival Kit Must-Haves

Put together a winter car survival kit for your vehicle. Be sure to include:

  • Definitely include jumper cables, but you may want to include flares or reflective triangle as well.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • First-aid kit, including necessary medications, baby formula and diapers if you have a small child.
  • Non-perishable food items such as canned food (don’t forget a can opener) and protein-rich foods like nuts and energy bars. If you travel with pets, make sure to include food for them, too.
  • Water — at least a gallon of water per person a day for at least three days.
  • Basic toolkit with pliers, wrench and screwdriver.
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction.
  • A shovel to dig out of snow.
  • Extra gloves, hats, sturdy boots, jacket and extra change of clothes for the cold.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • A car charger for your cellphone

Hurricane Matthew Information-Red Cross Updates

10/14/2016 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Hurricane Matthew Information-Red Cross Updates Wind damage from Hurricane Matthew

Since Hurricane Matthew first threatened the United States, Red Cross and community shelters have provided over 70,000 overnight stays.
This massive sheltering effort has provided nearly as many overnight stays in shelters as after Superstorm Sandy.
American Red Cross Response Along the East Coast:
Since Hurricane Matthew first threatened the U.S., Red Cross and community partners have served more than 137,000 meals and snacks, and provided 74,000 overnight stays.
The Red Cross has mobilized 3,000 disaster workers, 155 response vehicles—nearly half of our total fleet—and more than 100 trailers filled with water, ready-to-eat meals, cots, blankets, kitchen items, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more.
More volunteers, vehicles and supplies are being mobilized now to supplement relief efforts.
As conditions permit, Red Cross response vehicles will begin circulating through the hardest hit areas to begin delivering food and relief supplies
Even in areas where homes were on higher ground, further away from the water and less prone to flooding, wind damage from Hurricane Matthew caused older trees in historic and established communities in Georgia and South Carolina to fall onto homes, crushing them due to the age and size of the trees. Trees and large limbs covered streets and cars.

New Long-Range NJ Winter Forecast Released, And it's Not Good

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

A new long-range NJ winter forecast has been released, and You should be prepared.

If the latest long-range forecast is correct, it's a good time to start shopping for a new snow shovel.

AccuWeather, in its new long-range forecast, predicts it will feel like an extended winter for New Jersey and Pennsylvania as cold and snowy conditions will likely stretch into spring 2017.

Frequent storms across the northeastern U.S. — particularly in the Northeast — this winter may lead to an above-normal season for snowfall.

"I think the Northeast is going to see more than just a few, maybe several, systems in the course of the season," AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said in a news release.


Unlike last season, in which most of winter's snowfall came from a few heavy-hitting storms, this winter will last into the early or middle part of spring and will feature frequent snow events.

Pastelok said much of the accumulation will be in New Jersey, the Philadelphia metropolitan area and south of Washington, D.C. These areas will see a handful of changeover systems, where falling snow transitions to rain and sleet.

"But still, Boston, Hartford, along the coastal areas up into Connecticut and southern New England, they can still have a fair amount of snow," he said.

Overall, it's predicted that the region will total a below-normal number of subzero days, though the temperature will average 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit lower than last year.

Winter will slowly creep into the Southeast this season, as very mild air hangs on throughout the month of December.
However, the new year will usher in a pattern change as a sudden burst of cold air penetrates the region.

"I am afraid that we have a shot at seeing a damaging freeze in central Florida in mid- to late January this year," Pastelok said.

The Old Farmer's Almanac, meanwhile, has released its long-range weather predictions for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. If the publication's long-range forecast is accurate, we should expect above-normal temperatures this winter in the central part of the Atlantic Corridor region, which includes New Jersey.

AccuWeather, meanwhile, says a chill could spell disaster for the area's citrus farmers.

Cold air will once again retreat following January and the threat is predicted to shift to severe weather.

"Places like Atlanta, Chattanooga, even up into Roanoke, they could have some severe weather," Pastelok said. "But if the storm track is a little farther east, then you're looking more like Tallahassee to Savannah and, maybe, Charleston."

Things Your Parents Didn't Tell You About Taking Care of Your Home: Winterizing Your Home

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

The excitement of owning your first home can be intense and overwhelming. The opportunity to make each room a reflection of you and your tastes, to fill the rooms with things that are meaningful to your family, and to become a part of your new neighborhood can quickly fill up your first few months in a new home. But after you’ve had a chance to settle in, the weather starts cooling off, and the leaves start turning beautiful colors, you realize there may be things you need to do to prepare your home for the change in seasons.

Winterizing your home is an important, but all too often overlooked, part of maintaining a household. Properly protecting your home against cold weather can help save money, increase your personal comfort, and reduce the chance of expensive problems like burst pipes. Many of these steps you will want to do before freezing weather sets in to head off any problems that the cold weather may cause. The first frost date for your area is a good approximation for the onset of cold weather, and there are several agricultural sites that allow you to look up the average first frost by zip code. Some areas of the U.S. can experience their first frost as early as September, so it’s good to know what to expect for your area.

While many of the steps here are simple and cheap, some can get costly. Luckily, the federal and state governments offer tax credits and weatherization assistance for some purchases. The US Department of Energy has a guide on seeking weatherization assistance from the state, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program has a guide on federal tax credits for energy-efficient purchases. Be sure to check these each year, as guidelines and eligibility requirements can change.

Before the Frost:

Executive_Home

Remove dead tree branches: Prune back any dead or damaged tree branches, especially if they overhang your house or parking space. Dead branches are more likely to break and fall in a snow or ice storm, potentially damaging your property and passerby. You should also remove any branches that could damage your home or car if they fell, even if the branch is healthy.
Use caulk and weather-striping: According to the US Department of Energy, having a drafty house can increase your energy bill by as much as 5% to 30%. Caulk and weather-striping are effective methods to seal leaks. Window frames are a frequent source of drafts, as is anywhere that two materials meet (such as around the chimney, in corners, where pipes exit the house, and around the foundation). You can test for leaks manually, by walking around on a chilly night and feeling where cold air gets in, or using the incense test. The incense test involves turning off any fans, lighting a stick of incense, and running it near potential leaks. If the smoke wavers, there’s a breeze, which means air is getting in and out. (Move flammable objects away from where you’ll be testing. Incense doesn’t typically get too hot, but better safe than sorry.)
Prepare to keep out under-door drafts: The space under exterior doors is another major place that drafts can pass through. Make or buy a door snake (or door guard) to keep out the cold. Rolled up towels will do in a pinch, or you can make a cute DIY door snake to help guard your house against the wind. You can also put door snakes on interior doors, if you’re trying to preferentially heat a single room.
Improve insulation: Repairing, installing, or improving your house’s insulation can be one of the most effective ways to increase your home’s energy efficiency. Adding insulation is also one of the easiest home improvement projects to do yourself, and it can add value to your home. Insulation is important between walls, in your attic’s floor, and in your basement’s ceiling. You can also install insulation between floors. How much and what type of insulation you’ll need will vary depending on where you live and what part of the house is being insulated (attics need more insulation than walls or floors). The U.S. Department of Energy has a guide outlining the different qualities of insulation needed for different locations and uses.
Winterize A/C and water lines: This is a step that will typically require a professional to help with, but even with that cost can save you money in the long run. Talk to neighbors about who they use, or contact your local better business bureau for recommendations. You can also usually purchase a cover for your air conditioner that can help to keep out snow and debris. If you have a window A/C unit, you may want to remove it and put it in storage till the spring.
Have a professional check and seal ducts: Your air ducts form a core part of both your central heating and A/C system. Sealing your ducts properly can lead to massive savings in both the winter and summer, since the air will stay cold or hot longer. Properly sealed ducts also reduce incidence of dust and mold in your air. You can hire a professional to come to your house to check and seal your ducts. However, be leery of ‘duct cleaning’ services – most homes don’t need them. Your utility company might offer incentives to improve your ducts.
Insulate pipes: Insulating your pipes will help you save on heating water and can reduce the risk of pipes bursting. Most hardware stores sell pre-slit foam that can be easily wrapped around your pipes. Pay attention to the foam’s R-rating. The R-rating is a measure of how effective the insulation is. Most pipe insulation ranges from R-3 to R-7. Higher R-ratings offer better insulation. You can also insulate your hot water heater.
Install more efficient doors and windows: Modern, energy-efficient glass can raise the value of your home and help you save on both heating and A/C. Make sure any windows you purchase are Energy Star qualified. You can also install storm windows or a storm door over or behind existing, low-efficiency windows and doors. Storm windows are mostly helpful in areas prone to inclement weather and/or temperatures far below freezing.
Buy a window insulation kit: Window insulation kits are a cheaper and easier alternative to installing new windows or storm windows. You can get them for as little as a few dollars. If your area doesn’t get particularly cold in the winter, a window insulation kit might actually be a more cost-effective solution. Larger kits can also be used to insulate sliding glass doors.
Replace worn or missing roof shingles: Holes in your roof can let warm air escape and cold water enter, increasing the risk of frost and water damage and increasing your heating bills. If you’re not comfortable repairing the roof yourself, call a professional.
Have your chimney inspected and cleaned: A blockage in your chimney could trigger a house fire, or redirect smoke down into your house. Get a certified chimney sweep to check your chimney for problems and remove things like animal nests and built up suit. Chimney sweeps start getting busy in the late fall and winter, so it’s best to get your chimney inspected well ahead of the cold season. Fortunately, you only need to get your chimney checked once a year.
Have your furnace inspected: Call an HVAC professional to check your furnace out, to make sure that it’s running efficiently and safely. Damaged or old furnaces can cause massive safety problems, including carbon monoxide buildup, on top of increased energy usage and utility bills. The HVAC professional might also be able to clean and properly adjust your furnace. Many utility companies offer a free annual inspection, and some furnace manufacturers also offer inspections at a discount. HVAC crews get busy once heating season arrives, so a furnace inspection is another thing that it’s best to schedule early.
Change out filters: Check your furnace and air filters before heating season starts, and replace them if the filter looks dirty. Standard, disposable filters should be replaced once a month during heating season. Consider installing a permanent filter instead (they’re also called washable or electrostatic filters). Permanent filters are washed instead of replaced, reducing waste. They trap on average over twice as much debris as a disposable filter. A permanent filter should still be washed once a month and allowed to dry before re-installation.
Stock up ahead of time: Make certain your snow blower and shovel are in good repair, and replace them before it snows if needed. Also stock up on sand or salt for your driveway, along with non-perishables for your pantry, and any other winter supplies. People often wait until it snows to buy a new shovel, fill their pantry, or refill on propane, risking the stores running out. It’s always a good idea to keep at least three days’ to a week’s worth of non-perishable food, water, medicine, hygiene supplies, and other necessities in your house, in case power gets knocked out and you’re unable to reach the store.
During the winter:

Modern Single Family Home In Snow

A few steps should be taken once the cold weather really sets in, to help keep costs down and keep your home warm and cozy.

Check smoke and CO detectors: Ideally, you should check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a week. Find out what type of batteries they need, and make sure to keep a supply on hand so you can change out any depleted batteries. The winter sees an uptick in house fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, so exercise extra caution about both.
Run ceiling fans in reverse: Running the fan during the winter sounds counterintuitive, but it can actually be a big help. During the summer most people set their fans to run in a counterclockwise direction so that air is blown down. But in the winter, it’s recommended that you run your ceiling fans on a low speed in a clockwise direction so that air is drawn upward. This will gently pull air upward, forcing the warmer air on the ceiling back down and balancing a room’s overall temperature.
Make use of natural light and heat: Although the sun’s effects will be less noticeable in the winter, it can still have a warming impact on your home if used effectively. If you can, keep curtains on south-facing windows open during the day to let the sunlight in. Close curtains at night to help keep heat from leeching back out the windows after the sun goes down.
Turn down the thermostat: Especially if you’re not going to be home, consider cranking the thermostat to a lower setting. (You can buy a smart or programmable thermostat if you want the house to be warmed back up before you arrive, but not be wasting heating while you’re away.) Even a few degrees’ difference can result in fairly good savings on heating.
Dress warmly: You know how your parents were always saying “If you’re cold, put on a sweater”? Once you are the one paying the bills, you’ll probably appreciate their wisdom a little more. A warm sweater and slippers can go a long way towards staying comfortable in the winter.
Keep gutters clean: Clean gutters allow water to flow freely, reducing the chance that water will freeze in the gutters. Clogged gutters, on the other hand, worsen problems with icicles and run the risk of being damaged by the ice.

NJ Weather Forecast: Hazardous Weather Expected

9/30/2016 (Permalink)

Hazardous weather is expected this weekend as several New Jersey towns dealt with serious flooding on Friday.
The National Weather Service issued alerts warning New Jersey residents that persistent heavy rain could lead to flooding up and down the state.
Indeed, a Coastal Flood Advisory was posted for Hudson and Essex counties and along the coast to Salem County, with minor flooding possible.
Rainfall intensity is expected to decrease Friday, although we should continue to see rain through the weekend, according to the NWS.
Hurricane Matthew, meanwhile, appeared to be on a track heading north from the Caribbean, although forecasters say it's too early to say whether it will impact the Northeast.
Communities in North Jersey, down to the Jersey Shore and in South Jersey, meanwhile, dealt with a day's full of rain that flooded a number of streets on Friday.
Here is the weather forecast for the weekend:
Get free real-time news alerts from the Livingston Patch.
Enter email address
SUBSCRIBE
Friday: A chance of rain or drizzle. Cloudy, with a high near 66. Northeast wind 14 to 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. New precipitation amounts between a 10th and quarter of an inch possible.
Friday night: A chance of showers, mainly after 9pm. Cloudy, with a low around 62. Northeast wind 8 to 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent. New precipitation amounts between a 10th and quarter of an inch possible.
Saturday: Showers likely, mainly before 2pm. Cloudy, with a high near 74. East wind 8 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Saturday night: A chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 62. East wind 5 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Sunday: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 76. Northeast wind around 6 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. New precipitation amounts of less than a 10th of an inch possible.

Sunday night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 61. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.

Monday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 75. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent

Tropical Storm Hermine Expected to Become Hurricane, Could Impact N.J., Forecasters Say

9/1/2016 (Permalink)

Tropical Storm Hermine is now expected to become a hurricane and may impact New Jersey this weekend, bringing several severe impacts that could be damaging to the area, forecasters say.

Hermine is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall Thursday, according to The Weather Channel. Winds could exceed 70 mph when it hits Florida, and strong wind gusts could come to the New Jersey area by Sunday or Monday.

The storm, currently located over the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to move north toward the mid-Atlantic region this weekend, bringing with it a renewed threat of rip currents through the busy Labor Day weekend.

Beachgoers are being told that they should enter the water only if lifeguards are present, according to a briefing package put together by the National Weather Service.

Most rip current deaths occur on beaches when and where no life guards are on duty. Beach erosion is also possible, according to the briefing.

The storms could also bring these elements to the region:

  • Strong Winds: There is a chance for tropical storm force winds - 39 to 73 mph - this Labor Day weekend as Tropical Storm Hermine, or its remnants, move north.
  • The strongest winds should occur Saturday and Sunday. An inland path would result in lower winds.
  • Heavy rain: There is a risk for heavy rain over much of the mid-Atlantic area. However, specific rainfall amounts are highly dependent on the eventual track of the storm. Recent dry weather will lessen the severity of any stream and river flooding that may develop.
  • Street flooding and flash flooding are greater threats.
  • Storm surge: It is still too early to determine if storm surge will occur with Hermine. A inland path would lessen the threat from surge. However, astronomical tides will be running high from the new moon on Sept. 1, so less onshore flow is needed for coastal flooding to develop.
  • Timing: The second round of increased rip current risk (from Hermine) could begin Friday, then persist through Monday (Labor Day).
  • Strong winds and heavy rain are most likely Saturday and Sunday, with showers possibly lingering into Monday.

Photos: The Weather Channel, National Weather Service

 From the Clark-Garwood NJ Patch

Solved! What To Do About a Leaky Roof

8/31/2016 (Permalink)

Q: Help! I woke after last night’s storm to find a discoloration on the kitchen ceiling and a puddle beneath. What do I do about this new leak?

A: There’s nothing quite like an indoor puddle to put a damper on your rise-and-shine routine, is there? The first thing to do is mitigate any moisture damage. That can get complicated, since a leaky roof doesn’t always appear as a puddle on the floor (or at least not immediately). Occasionally, the only sign of a leak is that subtle discolored patch on your ceiling or wall, caused from water pooling behind it. When you’re lucky enough to spot it early on, intervene as soon as possible following these steps.

Secure the scene. If water has only dripped onto the floor, consider yourself lucky and move a bucket to catch the falling droplets. (While you’re at it, save your sanity by propping up some scrap wood inside the container to mute the annoying drip-drip-drip sound.) Otherwise, move as much out of the water’s path and cover items that are too heavy to relocate with thick plastic sheeting.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Drain the water. Using a ladder or a sturdy chair, climb up and puncture the water-damaged patch with a screwdriver. Making a hole might sound counterintuitive, but skipping this step will allow more moisture to seep in. The weight of the water might even cause your ceiling to sag or collapse—one more thing to add to your list of necessary repairs. Ultimately, patching up a small, 1/2-inch drainage hole is a lot easier and cheaper than dealing with structural damage.

Start sleuthing. So where’s the source of that pesky leak? Water travels down trusses or flashing until it finds a weak spot, so the entry point into the house isn’t necessarily directly underneath the part of the roof you’ll have to fix.  If you have attic access, head up there first during daylight hours. Turn off the lights and look up for any small opening that allows sunshine to stream through—an obvious source for your leaky roof.

Fight water with water. Can’t spot any signs of damage from the attic? Your next step is the water-test method, where someone stands outside on the roof and, using a lengthy hose, showers the roof until the drip returns—giving you a second chance to locate the source.

Phone a professional. Sometimes, finding what is in need of repair is not as easy as spotting a hole in your attic’s ceiling. From failing flashing to clogged gutters to crumbling shingles, the list of potential causes is very long. If you’ve conducted a thorough inspection and you’re still not certain what has led to your leaky roof, it’s time to call in a pro to both deduce the problem and recommend a fix. The actual repair will depend on many factors, including shingle type and pitch.

Meanwhile, lay out a tarp. When you’ve determined the source of the leak but can’t get a same-day repair, you’ll have to find temporary measures to protect your roof and home from snow, rain, and more water damage. If the roof is dry enough for you to carefully climb, try covering the affected area with heavy plastic sheeting or a tarp (at least 6 millimeters thick) and some 2×4s. Start at least 4 feet beneath the problem area and slowly roll the plastic over it, past the the ridge of the roof, and 4 feet down the opposite side to cover your leaky roof completely. Place one 2×4 at the “top” of the tarp (the opposite side of roof) and one at the bottom to weight it down, folding the tarp back over each plank and fastening it to the wood with a staple gun. The bottom board should rest in an eave or flat area against the roof. Lay a third 2×4 on the top board (which is wrapped in plastic sheeting) and secure it to the wrapped board with nails to help anchor the covering. Use more 2×4s resting on the plastic’s perimeter if you’re worried about wind.

While you work outside, remember: Proceed carefully and—unless you want to compound the problem with a few more leaks—do not puncture your roof by nailing or screwing boards directly to it.

 

Routine Maintenance: What To do When You Move In

8/17/2016 (Permalink)

So, you’ve just moved into your brand new home. You shopped around and did a lot of research to find the home that was just right for you. You signed a big pile of documents at closing, the moving trucks have left, all the boxes are unpacked, and all your belongings are in their proper places. What should you do now?

1. Change your filters

One of the most important things to remember is that you are responsible for certain routine maintenance items to keep your house functioning properly. These tasks tend to be relatively simple. For instance, many types of heating and air conditioning systems contain filters to remove dirt and dust from the air. A homeowner should change these filters when necessary.

Read Related: Working With A Heating and Cooling Professional

2. Get rid of dust and dirt

Cleanliness is a factor that will make your home last longer and work better. Dust and dirt, if allowed to accumulate, can harm the finishes on blinds, cabinets, countertops, floors, sinks, tubs, toilets, walls, tiles and other items. If dirt does accumulate, make sure to clean it with a substance that does not scratch or damage the finishes.

3. Check your exterior

On the outside of your home, make sure that gutters and downspouts do not get clogged with leaves or other objects. The exterior of your house is built to withstand exposure to the elements, but a periodic cleaningwill improve the appearance and, in many instances, prolong the life of siding and other exterior products.

Read Related: 3 Things You Should Know About Basic Roof Maintenance (And When To Call For Help)

4. Read your warranty

When you bought your home, you probably received a warranty from the builder on workmanship and materials. This warranty applies to problems related to the construction of the home, but it does not apply to problems that arise because of failure to perform routine maintenance. For example, if your roof begins to leak after six months because of faulty workmanship, your warranty would cover that. If you develop a problem because water backed up in clogged gutters that you should have cleaned, the builder is not responsible for repairs. Also, some items, such as appliances, may be covered by manufacturers warranties and are not the responsibility of the builder.

You should fully familiarize yourself with the terms of your warranty soon after you move into your home. With all the excitement surrounding a move into a new home, most people have little desire to curl up in front of the fireplace and read a legal document. Nonetheless, you should not wait to read your warranty until a problem arises. Set aside an hour to learn what your rights and responsibilities are from the outset.

Hazardous Weather Outlook

7/28/2016 (Permalink)

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for N.J., as heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected Thursday and Friday and over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

The New Jersey counties impacted by the watch, which is in effect until 12 midnight, are: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem and Somerset.

A flash flood warning was also issued for all New Jersey south of Morristown, and as much as 2 inches of rain could fall beginning Thursday, mostly in South Jersey.

AccuWeather reports the storm system swinging up from the Deep South will bring downpours to the northeastern U.S. and break the back of an extended heat wave.

Downpours will extend northeastward from the lower Mississippi Valley on Thursday into Thursday night. Locally gusty thunderstorms will erupt along with the drenching downpours from parts of Virginia to southern New Jersey during this time, according to an AccuWeather release.

"The exact track of the storm system will be a challenge to predict," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Here is what is expected on Thursday:

Here is what is expected on Friday:

Here is the forecast:

Get free real-time news alerts from the Livingston Patch.SUBSCRIBE

Thursday afternoon (North, Central Jersey): Partly sunny, with a high near 91. Light south wind.

Thursday afternoon (South Jersey): Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 4pm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 92. Light southwest wind. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Thursday night: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 1 a.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75. Light south wind. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Friday: Showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 3 p.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 82. Southeast wind around 10 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Friday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms before 8pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 67. North wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Saturday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Saturday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Sunday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Cloudy, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent.

Drying Equipment and Tools

7/28/2016 (Permalink)

Even small water damages have the potential to cause serious structural and indoor air quality issues over time. The key to avoiding costly problems in the future is to handle every water damage as a threat to your property. SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals have the equipment, training and experience to find and dry unseen water before secondary damages occur. The proper equipment makes a measurable difference in reducing the damage expense during a fire or water loss. When time matters, technology and equipment must be counted on to perform. Your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals will answer your call with rapid action and a dull arsenal of drying equipment. Here are a few of the tools used by your local SERVPRO Franchise Professionals.

  • Moisture Sensors are used to detect moisture in carpets, baseboards and walls. 
  • Moisture Meters are used to determine the actual moisture content of various materials. The moisture tester provides accurate reading, allowing SERVPRO Franchise Professionals to monitor the drying process. 
  • Thermo hygrometers measure temperature and relative humidity. When armed with this information, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals can calculate and create an environment most conducive to drying. When facing a contaminated water loss, it is not only important to dry the structure, but the structure most also be disinfected and often deodorized. 
  • Ultra Low-Volume (ULV) Foggers will atomized liquid deodorizing agents, producing a fine mist that can easily penetrate the sire where odor-causing residues may aciculate. This device can also be used to inject fungicides and disinfectants into wall caviled and other hard-to-reach areas. 
  • Thermal Foggers dispense solvent-based products by creating a dense fog. The fog consist of tiny particles of deodorant solution that attach to and neutralize odor-causing particles.
  • The bottom line? Your local SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have the training and equipment to help make it "Like it never happened."  

    10 Unexpected Places Where Mold Creeps Into Your Home

    6/7/2016 (Permalink)

    The Smith’s didn’t notice the mold and mildew smell in their home until they came home from vacation.

    “What’s that smell?” John asked.
    “Mildew. Maybe mold. Maybe I left some clothes in the washer,” Kathy said.

    After an hour-long search, the couple couldn’t find a leak. So they called John’s brother David — a plumber. He came right over.

    “The number one rule for checking for mold and mildew?” David said, “If it uses water, chances are it’s going to leak.”

    These are 10 places many homeowners overlook when checking for mold:

    Dishwasher


    Unless a dishwasher stops working or needs replacing or servicing, most of us don’t think about it as a potential source for mold. There are two connections under each dishwasher that have the potential for mold and mildew to get started–the water supply and the discharge connection. The water supply needs to be lubricated with the right sealant and properly tightened  periodically. The discharge connection involves a rubber hose and clamp, and installing the hose before the dishwasher is installed ensures it is done properly. Hoses wear out over time. If you’re buying an older house, it doesn’t hurt to check the dishwasher connections — especially if there’s an odd smell when you open the door.

    Icemaker Connections


    Refrigerators often get moved, either for cleaning or other projects. This can weaken or break the water line connection to the icemaker, causing leaks behind the refrigerator.

    “It seems like a simple job, so in the real world the plumbing contractor doesn’t install the water line, another contractor does,” Hoffman said. “The connection is a compression fitting and it must be installed properly to ensure there are no leaks.”

    Washing Machine Connections

    When installing a washing machine, always install a brand new washing machine hose, using the rubber washers the manufacturer recommends. Also, use Teflon tape and make sure to tighten the connection with vice grips so there are no drips or leaks. After all, it doesn’t take many drips to create an environment for mold.

    Hot Water Heater


    “Many states have laws regarding the installation of hot water heaters, and most of them involve overflow pans that are piped to drain outside the house. The pan must be tilted ¼ inch to ensure the water does drain. Newer heaters with quick connect connectors should be properly lubricated and tightened so the shut-off valve doesn’t leak,” Hoffman said.

    Plastic P-Traps

    Under every sink in your home is a “P-Trap,” almost always made of PVC pipe, which expands, and contracts. This process eventually loosens the connection and allows water to leak onto the base of the cabinet. If you look under sinks in every room you’ll easily spot the stains and discoloration commonly caused by leaking P-Traps. Use Teflon tape to seal every P-Trap and check them periodically, tightening them by hand to ensure their connections don’t loosen and leak. Over tightening PVC can cause it to crack, so be careful.

    Toilet Connections

    “I’m amazed at how many steps the DIY home improvement shows leave out when they explain about how to install a toilet,” Hoffman said. “The base of the toilet is where most mold grows. Toilets should be installed with a horned wax ring, and then the base of the toilet grouted in with tile grout,” he said. “The grout serves as a filler between the bowl and the floor to keep the bowl from rocking. Rocking bowls are the number one reason for the wax ring being compromised, which then allows mold to get a foothold.”

    Shower Doors

    Shower doors should probably be installed by plumbing contractors, Hoffman said. “They know how to keep them from leaking.” Mold growing at the base of the tub may be from leaking or improperly installed shower doors. Shower doors need caulking on all three rails — the two side rails as well as the bottom rail.

    Tub

    A properly caulked tub isn’t just nicer looking. It keeps water and moisture from dripping down under the tub and causing mold issues. Slab floors can create more problems — especially if installed by a DIY’er. The hole(s) in concrete slabs under tubs should be filled with a liquid tar, or expandable foam insulation to ensure moisture does not wick up from the ground through the slab.

    Exterior Hose Bib

    If you have a home, you have an exterior hose bib — a place where the water connection sticks out from the house. If you’ve used a hose, you know a poor connection or missing rubber washer, or loose hose can result in water spraying the house. This uncontrolled spray allows water to enter the space between the sidings, or into the wall, leading to mold growth. Make sure all holes, gaps and areas around every outdoor water connection are properly caulked and sealed.

    Outdoor Water Sprinklers

    Siding is engineered to shed rain falling down, not sprinklers shooting water up. Make sure your sprinklers are well away from the house when turned on. If you have children or teens that are watering the yard or garden, make sure they know not to spray the house with the hose. If power washing your home, hire a professional, or take care that water is not forced up under the siding as you wash.

    As a homeowner, if you take the appropriate precautions and are vigilant about upkeep, you should be able to avoid mold, or catch it at it’s outset. While mold can be a huge problem in homes, even causing health issues, it is easily preventable.

    Summer Home Maintenance Tips for Your New Home

    5/23/2016 (Permalink)

    With summer just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to start preparing your new home for the warmer months.

    From saving money on your electric bills to giving your home’s interior a seasonal refresh, a lot can be done now to make sure your new home is in optimal shape for years to come. To help get you started, here are just a few summer home maintenance tips from the professionals:

    Exterior

    One of the best ways to shave the dollars off your electricity bill is to provide natural shade around your home. This can be accomplished with a quick trip to your local garden center.

    Planting a well-developed bush near the living room window or a large tree near a second-story bedroom could help keep your home cool and save you money in the long run. Be sure to plant any shrubs, trees and other plants at the appropriate distance from your home to prevent any problems with your foundation and plants’ roots in the future.

    While you’re in the gardening spirit, now’s also a great time to think about how you plan to maintain your lawn over the summer. The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) provides several tips in their seasonal guide to summer lawn and landscaping care.

    For instance, many people believe hot weather means you should water more frequently, but the NALP actually advises to water your plants less often but more deeply. So increasing the length of time you expose your greenery to water will usually do the trick.

    And to ensure the health of your grass, the NALP suggests having your lawn properly aerated to improve the flow of oxygen in addition to adding adequate amounts of fertilizer and frequently checking its pH levels.

    For more tips on summer lawn maintenance, check out the full guide.

    After your yard is in tip-top shape, it’s time to pay attention to the rest of your outdoor area. Summer nights are great for enjoying friends and family in the backyard, so why not make an outdoor oasis?

    “Create areas around your yard that aren’t being used,” suggests Nicolle Nelson, a spokesman for Nadeau Furniture in Dallas, Texas. “And don’t be afraid to use furniture in a non-traditional way.”

    For example, adding a fire pit and seating area can help prevent mosquitoes and create an intimate gathering area. Teak benches around the pool and buffets to house your grilling essentials are other great furniture pieces that really bring out the summer feel.

    “By adding a piece of furniture to any corner of your patio or yard, you are inviting your family to use every inch of your space,” says Nelson. “That means more memories for your summer.”

    Interior

    Apart from the exterior of your home, there are also plenty of things you can do to get your home summer ready from the inside.

    Since warmer weather brings thoughts of a well air-conditioned home, let’s start with the AC system.

    “With spring allergies in full swing and warmer temperatures on their way, it’s crucial to be sure your air filter and AC system are working properly,” says Mike Clear, vice president of operations for American Home Shield, a home warranty company based in Memphis, Tenn.

    Clear suggests checking filters regularly throughout the year to help prevent damage, inefficiencies and to keep air clean.

    “Schedule annual maintenance on your AC now so you can be sure your unit is in top shape before being put to the test with summer’s high temperatures,” he adds.

    He also advises to check in on the furnace and heating system while you’re at it. While a new home’s furnace is likely already quite clean, it’s important to make sure the area around air returns stays clean and unobstructed throughout the year to prevent fire hazards and inefficiency.

    Benefits of Air Duct Cleaning

    5/17/2016 (Permalink)

    Building Services Benefits of Air Duct Cleaning SERVPRO of Central Union County is a NADCA-certified company

    Top Benefits of HVAC Cleaning

    NADCA’s rule of thumb for consumers is that “if your ducts look dirty, they probably are,” and that dirty HVAC systems should be inspected by a reputable, certified HVAC professional. Below are some other reasons homeowners choose to have their air ducts cleaned.

    Indoor Air Quality

    Indoor air quality is one concern that homeowners have when they decide to investigate air duct cleaning. In a typical six-room home, up to 40 pounds of dust is created annually through everyday living. Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home. The system taken air in and breathes air out.

    Through normal occupation in a home, we generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the duct work.

    While dirty ducts don’t necessarily mean unhealthy air in your home, school or workplace, they may be contributing to larger health issues or harboring contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies.

    Energy Savings

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use.

    When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-effectiveness.

    Old-Fashioned Housekeeping Tips That Still Work- And Why

    5/11/2016 (Permalink)

    Home styles and trends have certainly changed over the decades, and unless you actually enjoy washing clothes and dishes by hand, improvements in home technology have made housekeeping tasks faster and less time consuming.  But did you know that many of our best, most trusted, most effective housekeeping tips are over a century (or more) old? Here are some tried and true old-fashioned housekeeping tips that you’ll want to try in your own home.

    1. Baking soda

    History: For baking, gentle cleaning and odor removal, nothing beats baking soda. This water soluble powder, usually found in the baking or cleaning section of your grocery store, is inexpensive and versatile. Baking soda’s chemical makeup is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) and in nature it is found as nahcolite, a derivative of natron. The history of this mineral is lengthy: Ancient Egyptians used this mineral to create the paste for hieroglyphics. In 1846 two bakers in New York, Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight, started manufacturing and selling sodium bicarbonate. Their partnership eventually became the company we now know as Arm & Hammer. Although it was originally promoted for it’s uses in baking, baking soda was quickly adapted for money-saving personal care and other uses, like gently removing stains and odors, and became a trusted member of the household. In 1986 the copper-lined inside of the Statue of Liberty, which was covered in 100 years worth of coal tar, was cleaned with baking soda!

    Uses: You probably already use baking soda when baking cookies, muffins or cakes. You can easily make cleaning solutions with baking soda and apply it to your sink, bathtub or oven to remove spots and stains. Baking soda easily removes coffee stains from your daily mug and can make glassware brighter. Many find that a bit of baking soda in the laundry helps remove odors and stains. Baking soda is really good at removing odors so sprinkle it on your carpeting or inside your dishwasher, or place an open jar inside the refrigerator, freezer or closet. You can even use baking soda as a toothpaste and denture cleaner. Check out the Arm & Hammer website for a huge list of how to use baking soda to clean and care for your home.

    Read More: Easy DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes 

    2. Lemons

    History: The exact origin of the lemon plant isn’t exactly known but it thought to have originated in northern India or southern China. As world trade expanded so did the lemon, and became prized for its use in medicines, like the treatment of scurvy, and is an important plant in Ayurvedic medicine. The pH of a lemon is low, making it acidic, and the flavor is sour. This fruit quickly adapted to various culinary regions, becoming a feature on the tables of Europe, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and the New World.

    Uses: Lemons are an incredibly versatile fruit and you probably already use it in your cooking and baking. After squeezing out the juice of a lemon, toss that leftover peel down the garbage disposal for a quick, refreshing scent. Sprinkle salt on half a lemon and use it to clean and brighten your copper pots. Rub a lemon half over stainless steel or brass to remove spots. Toss part of a lemon in a bowl of water and heat it in the microwave to remove caked on spills and deodorize the inside. The juice of a lemon (one lemon has about 3 tablespoons of juice) can help dissolve grease and grime. The essential oils of a lemon are considered to be antibacterial, can be used as an insecticide, can be used as a wood furniture polish, and the scent can help make any room smell fresh and clean.

    Read more: 8 Ways To Use Lemon Around The Home

    3. Vinegar

    History: Vinegar has been used throughout history. Traces of vinegar have been found in Egypt dating back to 3000 BCE and may have been used to fight bacteria. Many ancient cultures used vinegar for food preservation, medicinal purposes, as cleaning agents, and as a food enhancer. There are all sorts of colors and flavors of vinegar, from the dark, thick balsamic to the cloudy, orange apple cider. There is malt vinegar, fruit vinegar, rice vinegar, cane vinegar, wine vinegar, and many other varieties. Essentially vinegar is the result of fermentation of ethanol, and consists of acetic acid, water and sometimes flavoring.

    Uses: Vinegar has long been used for good health, preservation of food and for cleaning and today many homeowners rely upon vinegar to perform a host of jobs around the house. Vinegar is acidic and can easily etch or leave marks on natural stone like marble. For cleaning around the home try using distilled white vinegar.  Simply pour it on a dry cloth and rub it on stainless steel to remove fingerprints or spots. You can use this same method to clean the inside of your washing machine and dishwasher, particularly the rubber gaskets and seals. Mixed with water it makes an excellent cleaning liquid for flooring or other surfaces like glass. Use it as a rinse in your coffee maker to remove oily coffee residue. Vinegar can remove odors too. Try boiling a tablespoon in a pot of water to remove household smells or place an open bowl of vinegar in a stinky cupboard or fridge. Vinegar can remove sticky residue, like a sticker or tag that won’t come off.  You probably remember this from science class: mixing vinegar with baking soda will produce an effervescent effect and can be a great combination to battle dirty dishes and also works well as a drain un-clogger (follow this up with some boiling hot water down the drain).

    Read more: 1001 Uses For Vinegar In The Home

    4. Salt

    History: Salt is comprised of sodium and chloride (NaCl) and in the days before refrigeration, salt became the leading method to preserving foods. Historically and economically, salt was a prized possession throughout many cultures. Salt was so valuable in ancient Rome that soldiers were sometimes paid in salt (the Latin word for salt is sal, which is where we get the word “salary”). Dozens of place names and expressions have derived from this mineral. “Worth his weight in salt,” “salt of the earth,” “take it with a grain of salt,” and “to sit above the salt” are all recognizable phrases we still use today.  Salt would have been a featured object on an table, but only placed closest to the head of the table. And salt was a common gift to bring someone to their new home. Whole geographic areas in Europe were named after salt mining, like Saltzburg, Austria, the salt road in Italy (via Salaria), and in Britian the suffix “wich” means a place of salt or brine. If you want to learn more about the history of salt, check out Salt A World History by Mark Kurlansky.

    Uses: Salt is abrasive and is a perfect weapon against caked on, baked on grime or grease. Sprinkle it on a cutting board to thoroughly remove debris, or sprinkle in your mugs to remove coffee or tea stains. Salt is absorbent and can help soak up wine spills or other stains on fabrics or fibers. Use salt to melt ice, use it in the wash load to remove perspiration stains, or remove lime buildup in the sink. Sprinkle salt on a lemon half and use it to scrub and polish copper. Sprinkle salt on the windowsill to deter ants. Want more household uses for salt? Check out this list here.

    Read more: Using Salt To Remove Snow & Ice

    5. Leftovers: Recycling & Reusing

    History: You might think that composting and recycling is a new idea however it wasn’t that long ago that households reused or recycled nearly everything. If you lived on a farm, or had property, you’d most likely feed your leftover food scraps to the animals or place them in the ground. City dwellers in England would rely upon the rag and bone man to buy leftover goods that weren’t reused or recycled. Victorian households had a surprising lack of waste – much of this can be attributed to lack of food waste (no food was ever wasted), reusable packaging (no plastic), buying only what the household needed (no electronics replaced every few years), and lack of sanitary department to pick up rubbish (higher motivation to reuse). Mending was both economical and earth friendly and belongings tended to have a longer life cycle.  Ancient Greece actually had a ruling about dumping waste outside the city limits as far back as 500 BC and Londoners regularly needed to revisit public dumping laws due to outbreaks of cholera and concerns for public health. New York City was among the first cities in America to create a formalized garbage management system in 1895, but other cities took longer to organize sanitation departments. Fortunately for households today we have opportunities to turn leftovers and garbage into useful products both outside and inside the home.

    Uses: It’s a smart idea to get to know your city’s policies on rubbish and recycling; your yard waste bin, for example, might also collect food scraps. And your recycling bin make accept more types of plastic than you think. There are many leftovers in your home that you might already be reusing like glass jars, egg cartons or newspaper, which can be used for all sorts of ways in the home. Don’t forget the more “old fashioned” ways of using leftovers, like saving old linens, towels and clothing for cleaning rags or polishing projects. Try using old toothbrushes for cleaning hard-to-reach areas of the home or car. Soot or ashes from the fireplace can be spread in the yard as a nutritious additive, so can your used coffee grounds or eggshells. Seashells make excellent scraping tools, lemon rinds can be used to deodorize your kitchen sink, and newspapers can be used to clean your windows. Sites like this have all sorts of creative ways to reuse or upcycle nearly anything!

    Read more: How To Make Home Improvement Greener

    6. Oil & fats

    History: Using all parts of the animal was how our ancestors lived, and it was common practice to use the hide, bones and fat for all sorts of household uses. Animal fat helped illuminate homes until natural gas, then electricity, became common. Animal fat was also used to make soap, protect the skin, seal containers, protect clothing from water and many other uses. Technological advancements may have replaced our animal fat usage however our homes still need, from time to time, the coating and lubrication that an oil provides. Olive oil, made from the fruit of the olive tree, was thought to have been produced in the Mediterranean as far back as 6000 BC. Coconuts have long been used by the peoples of Asia and the Pacific for thousands of years. Both oils were historically used for a multitude of purposes: food, medicinal, personal health, beauty, fuel, and in religious ceremonies. Today we don’t have to rely upon animal fat to illuminate our home, and it’s easier than ever to purchase olive and coconut oils.

    Uses: You can use both types of oils around the home for many purposes (other than cooking or baking). A thin coating of olive oil over your stainless steel refrigerator can help keep off fingerprints. Coconut oil does a great job seasoning your cast iron skillets or BBQ grates. A bit of oil or fat can help unstick a zipper, take the squeak out of a door hinge and makes drawers roll smoothly. A small amount of olive oil on a dry cloth can help polish wood furniture (add some lemon essential oil and it will smell better than Pledge). Rub your garden tools (like shovels) with oil to keep them in good condition. Your shoes will look a bit shinier with a homemade oil polish.  Coat your measuring cup with oil to prevent sticky substances, like molasses, from sticking. Both of these oils work well for the body as well. Use them as moisturizers for the hair or skin, use them for treating irritated or cracked skin, or use it to remove makeup. Sticky bandaids come off much easier when the adhesive is rubbed with oil.

    Save Energy at Home This Summer

    5/9/2016 (Permalink)

     

    Your cooling and heating system is one of the biggest energy users in your home. Here are some inexpensive tips on ways to help save some energy and money this summer.

    Summer officially starts on June 20th, but you don’t have to sweat spending extra money on your utility bill this year. There are easy things you can do at home to save. According to the Department of Energy, cooling and heating accounts for about 48% of the energy used in most homes. [1] Here are tips that can help you save energy and money.

    Use Fans. Ceiling fans and table top fans can create a wind chill effect, which can help you feel cool. Remember: fans cool people and not rooms. Turn fans on when you enter the room and you will feel cool without having to lower the temperature of your thermostat. Turn fans off when you leave the room to conserve energy. Bathroom fans and range hoods in the kitchen can also help remove heat and humidity from the air.

    Insulation. If your home is not properly insulated you can lose the cool air you pay for to the outside. Simple caulking and weather stripping is an inexpensive way to help keep the cool inside and help save energy.

    Window coverings / passive cooling. Close blinds and curtains when you can to help deflect heat away from your windows. Your air conditioner will not have to work as hard to cool your home.

    Cook outside. Try not to use appliances, like ovens and ranges, which create extra heat inside. Consider grilling outside for dinner so the air conditioner is not working to overcome the heat you are creating in the kitchen.

    Regular maintenance of your cooling system is also important during the summer. A trusted technician can insure your air conditioning is operating at peak performance and spot potential trouble before it becomes a larger expense.

    10 Things You Need to Know About the Roof of Your Home

    5/6/2016 (Permalink)

    Keeping a Roof Over Your Head: Maintenance Tips & More


    Unless it’s leaking, you might not think too much about your home’s roof, but perhaps you should. After all, it’s the first line of defense between the elements and the biggest investment of your life. Here are ten things you should definitely know about your home’s roof, and how to take good care of this valuable component of your house.


    Don’t Let Your Roof Rot


    Roof rot can be a very serious issue. Fallen leaves, moss, and algae can cause your roof to retain water, which will accelerate the rotting process. If left unchecked, rotten shingles can let moisture into your attic or cause leaky ceilings.


    Keep Your Gutters Clean


    Clogged gutters aren’t just unsightly – they can actually damage your roof. They can cause water to accumulate on your roof, accelerating wear and encouraging rot and mold growth. And if your gutters become too weighed down with dead leaves and other detritus, they can actually be ripped from the side of your roof, causing further damage.


    How to Spot Problems


    We wouldn’t recommend getting on your roof to inspect it for issues, but there are a few things you can keep an eye out for on your own. Look for wear around the chimney and the boots that surround the kitchen and bathroom ventilation tubes. Check for cracked or bald shingles. Get a closer look with a pair of binoculars – do you see any loose nails? These can all be warning signs that your roof needs some serious attention.


    Have Your Roof Inspected


    Sometimes it’s a good idea to call in a professional. If you don’t know when your roof was serviced last or you’re considering purchasing a home, then you may want to have the roof professionally inspected. A seasoned roofing contractor will know how to spot potential issues and will be able to give you a clear picture of your roof’s condition.


    DIY Roofing? Maybe Not


    If you’re the do-it-yourself type, then you might be tempted to try replacing your roof on your own, but you may want to think twice about that. Roofing repair is difficult and potentially dangerous work; the last thing you need is to cause further damage or to injure yourself in the process.


    Your Roof Will Need to Be Replaced


    Nothing lasts forever, and roofing is no exception. As a homeowner, you should anticipate your roof needing to be replaced at some point if you are planning on staying long-term. Most new roofs are designed to last for 20 years. Clay tiles and metal roofing are more expensive, but they offer better longevity than traditional shingles.


    Check Your Roof Before Going Solar


    These days, it seems like just about everyone’s interested in going solar. But before you install solar panels on your rooftop, you’ll want to make sure your roof is up to the task. If you happen to be in the market for a new roof and solar panels, then you might even be able to kill two birds with one stone and get solar shingles.


    Roof Repairs Are a Smart Investment


    There’s a lot at stake if your roof fails. A leaky roof can cause structural damage, mold growth, and all sorts of other costly problems. Thankfully, roof repairs are relatively affordable, especially when compared to the alternative.


    How to Budget for Roofing Costs


    A new roof can be expensive, but planning ahead can take some of the sting out of paying for it. Knowing how much to set aside for roof repairs is relatively easy, especially if you know when your roof was last replaced.


    First, subtract the number of years your roof has been in place from its life expectancy (20 years, in most cases). Then, find out what it will cost to have it replaced. Finally, divide that by the number of months you expect your current roof to last, and you’ll know how much to put away each month.


    Choose the Right Contractor


    Before hiring a roofing contractor, it’s a good idea to do your homework. Ask around to see if your friends have any recommendations. Check Better Business Bureau ratings, and make sure any candidates are licensed and bonded. Find out if your contractor can provide solid references that you can contact. And if a roofing contractor’s bid seems too good to be true, know that it probably is. It’s better to pay a bit more for quality work, especially when it comes to roofing.


    Keep a Roof Over Your Head


    We hope these tips were helpful. Follow them, and your roof will keep your home safe, sound, and dry.

    The 7 Biggest Benefits of Hiring a Green House Cleaner

    4/20/2016 (Permalink)

    It may seem like a luxury to hire a house cleaner, but when it comes to keeping your house spotless and sparkling, a professional can not only make sure everything is dirt and grime-free from top to bottom (including baseboards and ceiling fans), but can give you time back that you’d typically spend scrubbing toilets and washing windows. Even better, if you hire a green cleaner, you’re also doing your part to be environmentally responsible and take care of the earth. Read on to find out the benefits of hiring a house cleaner that’s planet-friendly and how it’s actually quite easy to be green (despite what that charming frog says).

    Find a Green Cleaner

    1. Green Cleaning Is Safer for Your Family and Pets

    Certainly there are times when one needs to disinfect an area (like on surfaces that have had contact with raw meat or when someone has a contagious illness), but the chemicals in disinfectants can trigger asthma, allergies, and create other health issues. Exposure to living bacteria is actually good for us and according to some research may actually strengthen immune systems. Mostly though, by cleaning with products that don’t contain toxins, pollutants, or suspected carcinogens such as VOCs, solvents, chlorine, ammonia, sulfates, or irritating dyes and perfumes, you’re making sure your children and pets are living and thriving in a healthy and safe environment.

    2. Green Cleaners Don’t “Green Wash”

    Green cleaners wash your home in a green way, but they don’t “green wash,” meaning they won’t deceive you about the products they’re using to clean your home. If they say they’re using eco-friendly products and practices, then they really are. This means they’ll also be honest about which organic products are most effective and won’t tell you they’re disinfecting if they’re not.

    3. Green Products Are Better for Your Health

    Most common household cleaners contain toxic chemicals that can have an adverse affect on your health, which is why the biggest advantage giving your home an eco-friendly cleaning is that everything will be cleaned with all-natural products. There are tons of household cleaners that can keep your home fresh and clean that are non-toxic, biodegradable, and made from renewable resources. That being said, it’s true that sometimes it can take a little more time and elbow grease to get green products to work because they’re much more gentle than chemical products. Chemicals may make cleaning easier, but they don’t make it any better. Still, green products won’t disinfect and kill bacteria the way traditional cleaning products do, so if that’s important to you, it’s something to think about. Though it’s also worth nothing that it’s not necessary to kill bacteria on a surface, just to remove it, which green products will do.

    Find a Green Cleaner

    4. Green Cleaners Provide the Products

    In order to ensure your home is being cleaned with non-toxic and environmentally friendly products, most green cleaners provide all of the cleaning equipment and products, though they will use your products if you ask them to.

    5. Green Cleaners Are Committed to Being Green in All Areas

    While using green house cleaning products is a huge part of taking care of the earth, green cleaners know it goes further than just that and make an effort to save water, reuse bottles, reduce waste, and implement sustainable business practices.

    6. Green Cleaning Is Also Safer for the People Doing the Cleaning

    A sustainable cleaning philosophy means that cleaners are not exposed to toxic chemicals that could adversely affect their health.

    7. Green Cleaners Will Save You Time

    Okay, this is true of any house cleaner, but it’s still worth mentioning. Whether you live in an apartment or a house, a green cleaner is saving you the time and effort it takes to keep everything looking its best. And they will clean on a schedule that works for you, whether that’s once a week or once a month. In addition, by taking care of your home and providing regular maintenance, you’ll save money in the long run.

    Home Remodeling and Shower Safety

    4/18/2016 (Permalink)

    As people age, their movement can become less fluid and they may need day-to-day assistance or ongoing health care. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ensures there are public accommodations available for those who need it. However, commercial spaces are not the only place to find ADA-compliantrooms; many residential homes are remodeling to include fixtures and appliances to accommodate those with disabilities, injuries or other health issues that may make it difficult for them to move around or grip objects.

    Research by the American Association of Retired Persons shows that nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, often referred to as “aging in place.” With falls as the leading cause of injury-related visits to the emergency room in the United States and the primary cause of accidental deaths (75%) in people over 65, reports MetLife Mature Marketing Institute, it is important that safety is highlighted in the aging-in-place movement.

    This movement has affected many areas of the home. The Centers for Disease Control says bathrooms are commonly believed to be a particularly hazardous location. An ADA-compliant shower system allows for a safer showering experience. The technology used with ADA showers is not only geared toward safety but ease-of-use and accessibility as well.

    “For showers, it’s preferable to have a zero threshold/walk-in shower area, with height-adjustable hand-held products or multiple showerheads,” says Darnell Wesson, product manager, Bradley Corp. “Activation devices and handles that are easy to see and use also are important. All activations must offer the ability to be turned on with less than five pounds of pressure as required by the ADA. To help prevent slips and falls, grab bars and built-in seats/benches are also key, as well as slip-resistant flooring.”

    The design of these ADA-compliant shower systems used to be industrial-looking. However, as these systems move toward residential housing, many manufacturers have started universal design lines, which are age-friendly and blend well with any interior design plan.

    Universal design elements

    Several products speak to universal design — catering to users on both sides of the fence. “These universal lines are not only for those with disabilities that the ADA regulations accommodate but also for those who are aging-in-place and may have arthritis, for example,” says Jason McNeely, sales training manager with Hansgrohe North America. “We try to be adaptive to everyone and everything is labeled for intuitive use.”

    For Wesson, the ultimate design goal starts with an emphasis on user-friendly products with a great aesthetic and are easy to maintain.

    “Products must be easy to grip or grasp, easy to understand and operate and, when possible, they should include fail-safe features,” he says. “Subtle integration of safety and support are also critical. The United States is on track to have more than 80 million Americans over the age of 65 by 2050, so manufacturers need to provide innovative, accessible and high-quality products to meet the requirements of the marketplace going forward.”

    Another universal design concept is temperature-control technology. “An integrated digital temperature display with LED color indicators signals different water temperature ranges, providing users peace of mind before getting in the shower or bath,” says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education at Masco Cabinetry, parent company ofDelta Faucet Co., and a National Association of Home Builders’ certified aging-in-place specialist.

    “The technology is available on a variety of hand showers and showerheads to suit various décor styles.”

    The trend is to improve the function of bathroom products yet allow consumers to use them with less effort, she adds, such as hand showers with rubberized grips or the implementation of push-button technology. “Regardless of the consumers’ ability, accessible shower systems with advanced technology can help all comfortably interact with water,” Reep says.

    McNeely agrees: “Push-button technology is an evolutionary change. We saw the change from the rotary phone to the push-button model; even cars are changing to push-button engine starts. Society is demanding the making of easier and more functional products.”

    Touchless technology — which solves flexibility issues for people who have hand injuries or arthritis — also is an ongoing trend.

    “Touchless fittings controlled by infrared electronics combine ease-of-use with reliable operation,” says Cheryl Dickson, head of brand and trade marketing for Grohe America. “Showers need to be convenient and electronic functionality makes operation effortless and exact. Functions that control temperature, as well as configurations that make showering while seated possible and comfortable, also are popular. Technology that controls water flow, water source and especially temperature are very important now and will continue to be in the future.”

    Code considerations

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed final regulations in July 2010 revising the Department of Justice’s ADA regulations, including its ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Shower system regulations are covered in sections 607 through 610 here: http://tinyurl.com/ADA-regs-2010.

    “Building codes can vary regionally and locally; however, design and planning keys for bathroom accessibility are consistent across North America,” Reep notes. “Dimensional relationships and access are two critical pieces. One such example might be accommodating a 5-ft. open radius within the bath space so a wheelchair can turn fully in the room. If room size limitations hamper this, layout options exist to make the space flexible for added functionality.”

    Height is another area to watch for ease-of-reach issues so that people can easily access lavatory sinks, countertop surfaces, grab bars, seating and shower entry thresholds.

    Specifications to keep in mind when remodeling bathrooms for accessibility include:

    • The faucet controls and shower diverter can be turned on and off easily, and are operable and usable with one hand — without tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist;
    • An adjustable-height, hand-held wand with at least a 60-in. long hose provided so persons who bathe from a seated position may wash and rinse with the directional spray;
    • Roll-in showers should have a securely fastened folding seat at 17-in. to 19-in. above the floor to make it easy for people who use wheelchairs to transfer into the shower space;
    • The faucet controls and wand are positioned on the wall along the side of the seat so they are operable from the folding seat or from the wheelchair;
    • A horizontal grab bar on the wall alongside and/or opposite the shower seat (but not behind the seat) for stabilization and aid in transfer from a wheelchair to the folding seat; and
    • The gap between the wall and the inside face of each grab bar should be 1 1/2-in. to accommodate persons with disabilities who rest their forearms on the bars for stabilization. This ensures the arm does not accidentally pass between the grab bar and wall, especially if a fall occurs.

    For manufacturers, product testing is a very important process in ensuring the longevity of their products and the safety of their customers. “At our life-testing laboratories, our products are put through their paces and shown no mercy,” Dickson says. “Here, our faucets, showers, thermostats and all the components that go with them have to endure the simulated effects of 20 years’ daily use — with especially hard water. People who find conventional fittings hard to handle expect good design to make operation easier.”

    However, it all comes down to the shower experience, so performance testing is critical for these shower systems. “We want to make sure people are still having a great shower experience,” McNeely notes. “Not only are these systems becoming more popular, but they are becoming more of a standard — not so much asked for as much as expected as second nature. It is becoming more of a normalized design.”

    Reep agrees that universal design is gaining industry momentum, commercially and in private residences. “Many new construction projects are working to create spaces that are as inclusive as possible, thus making the need for accessible bathroom and shower products even greater than before,” she says.

    UL Warns of Potential Hazards from Improper Installation of Lighting Retrofit Kits

    4/15/2016 (Permalink)

    UL has issued a warning over the growing number of reports of improperly installed and uncertified retrofit lighting kits that may pose a fire or shock hazard.

    In many states, utility companies are offering financial incentives to consumers and businesses that upgrade or retrofit their facilities to use more energy-efficient lighting. While the move to more modern and efficient lighting fixtures is a positive step, care must be taken to use certified retrofit kits and install them properly. A qualified electrician must complete the retrofit according to accompanying installation instructions, as improper installation may pose a fire or shock hazard.

    “Many of these retrofit installations are completed in ways that create safety hazards where none existed before, creating unintended consequences in the name of energy efficiency,” said Marguerite Carroll, manager of UL’s Regulatory Services Department.

    The components used in the retrofit may have individual certifications, but if the kit (including the accompanying installation instructions) is not certified per the applicable Standards for Safety, problems can occur.

    “The common thinking is that LED retrofits are low-voltage. This is not true. All retrofit kits will include branch circuit connections, and should be treated with proper safety precautions,” said Bahram Barzideh, principal engineer with UL’s Lighting Division. “A retrofit kit is more than just parts. When a luminaire is modified using off-the-shelf parts, there is no way to know if the luminaire is compliant or even safe.”

    UL urges those installing a lighting retrofit to use only third-party certified retrofit kits and follow the accompanying installation instructions. UL Certified lighting retrofit kits can be verified in UL’s Certification database found on ul.com at http://iq.ul.com/ssl/and selecting LED Retrofit Kits from the product category pull-down. More detailed information about retrofits and retrofit safety can be found at http://industries.ul.com/lighting/retrofit-kits.

    IICRC Certified Firm!

    3/18/2016 (Permalink)

    Look for the IICRC logo 

    IICRC Certified Firms have earned the right to display the IICRC logo as a symbol of quality. In order to achieve IICRC-certified status, firms must meet a rigorous list of standards in business ethics and expertise. All IICRC Certified Firms must:

    • Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.
    • Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.
    • Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.
    • Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.
    • Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes, and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.

    The IICRC actively has relationships with fiber producers, carpet and fabric mills, furnishing manufacturers and retailers, and others affiliated with the industry. The use of IICRC service professionals is specified in leading manufacturers’ maintenance brochures and warranties.

    When it comes to cleaning, restoration and inspection, the IICRC writes the books

    As an ANSI-accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO), the IICRC has led the way in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet cleaning, upholstery and fabric cleaning, water damage restoration and mold remediation.

    Each IICRC standard takes years to develop and the coordination of several experts in the field, including allied tradespersons; manufacturers; international, national and regional trade associations; individual or franchise professionals; cleaning, inspection and restoration industry organizations; insurance industry; training schools; contractors; and public health professionals.

    These standards are reviewed and updated at least every five years. Many of these fields, such as the water damage restoration field, change rapidly and those who are certified keep up with the advancement of the science and generally accepted practices of the industry.

    The IICRC helps keep homes and businesses healthful

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average person spends 90 percent or more of their time indoors, where levels of pollutants may be two to five times (and occasionally more than 100 times) higher than outdoor levels.

    This makes it extremely important to perform regular maintenance inside your home or business. In addition to vacuuming, cleaning and checking for water damage on a regular basis, using a certified technician for cleaning will help extend the life of your flooring and upholstery and ensure that your home or business is healthful for those who live and work there.

    5 Ways to Transform Your Home Into A Stress-Reducing Paradise

    3/3/2016 (Permalink)

    People long to be at home as revealed in the well-known saying, "home is where the heart is." Your home is the person or place you love the most.

    But if your home design stresses you out, then you may need to control some of the stress-inducing circumstances that are controlling your environment. Why not create a homey paradise right in your own home? As you read on, think how these five ways can help you transform your blab stressful home environment into a paradise that you wake up to each day.

    De-clutter your spaces

    To ensure that you aren't getting stressed trying to find things on a daily basis, start getting a hold of the clutter in your house by starting small in one specific area. In fact, go through stuff you haven't worn or used in years. Why are you still hanging on to these things? As revealed in this article, the "why" part behind the purpose for decluttering is especially important otherwise the need to declutter will feel like another "cleaning" type task.

    Another way to view decluttering is to make space for things such as having a place for each item you need to find. This will ensure that you won't lose your sanity each time you are trying to find something. You can solve this problem by stocking up on plastic containers of all sizes that can hold a variety of papers and items far away from view.

    Clean the air in your environment

    Purifiers can eliminate toxins from the air. Our homes are full of toxins especially from household chemicals. Getting a high quality air filter either for heating or air-conditioning can also help build your toxic tolerance.

    Keep a plant supply

    Studies have actually shown that stocking your home with plants can reduce stress. If you don't have time to take care of plants, invest in a few low-maintenance plants like succulents. Balance a succulent plant with other colors, patterns and textures. Like air-filters, plants clean the air and get rid of toxins.

    Establish routines and places that give you peace

    Where in your home can you feel more at peace? Is there a place you can meditate, relax and breathe? You don't need to go on lavish vacations to find that sense of peace and happiness. For example, is there a meditation corner you can establish in your bedroom?

    Light up your life

    Lighting, in all forms, can often be harsh and too bright. The key is to aim for warmer and more soothing light that bathes you which is generally produced by halogen bulbs.

    Obviously, natural light is the best earth centering energy, but this is not always possible especially if your windows face away from sunlight. LEDs are efficient bulbs that produce more light than the amount of energy they take.

    Cleaning and decluttering aren't just "cleaning" mechanisms, but they have the power to transform your life allowing you to feel true joy and happiness in your home. Destressing a home environment is all about connecting to those "feel good" energies.

    Is The Indoor Air You Breathe Healthy?

    2/24/2016 (Permalink)

    Your home should be your sanctuary, but did you know that the air inside your home (and other indoor spaces) could be 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside? In some cases, it may be much worse.

    The Problem:

    Chemicals, mold, particulates and poor ventilation compromise indoor air quality.

    Many of the items that make their way into your home emit thousands of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particles into the air. Although these compounds can contribute to a number of health problems, they are not generally identified on product labels.  VOCs are used in many household items such as furnishings and building materials, as well as cleaners, laundry products and air fresheners containing synthetic fragrance.

    Additionally, dust, dirt and debris containing pollutants and irritants come into your home on people’s shoes. Mold, which is caused by moisture, is another source of VOCs and particulates.   

    The Solutions:

    • Use cleaners and laundry products that don’t contain harmful chemicals and synthetic fragrances.  (Fragrance-free products are a great option.)
    • Don’t use aerosol sprays.
    • Keep large doormats at each entry to catch the majority of dust, dirt and pollutants on shoes. Consider making your home a shoe-free zone.
    • Choose a natural alternative to pesticides.  If you must use harsh chemicals, do so sparingly and with great caution.  Always read labels and follow directions carefully.
    • Maintain a healthy humidity level (30%-50%) to keep dust mites, mold and other allergens under control.  Fix leaks and moisture problems to prevent mold growth.
    • Keep indoor plants to clean the air naturally and brighten your space.  Ferns, spider plants and aloe are excellent natural air purifiers.  (If you have kids or pets, choose plants that are safe for them.) Be sure not to overwater your plants; overwatering can result in mold growth.
    • Vacuum, mop and dust often.  HEPA filters in vacuums prevent dust and dirt from blowing back through the exhaust.  Microfiber dusters and mops trap dirt without the use of cleaners or chemicals.
    • Don’t smoke.  Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 harmful chemicals and secondhand smoke poses a serious health risk to children.
    • Open your windows.  Fresh air can prevent the build-up of toxic chemicals.
    • Maintain your HVAC system.  Be sure to replace your furnace filters regularly.
    • Talk to an HVAC expert about a whole home air cleaner and humidification system.  A whole home system is the best solution to getting rid of 99% of indoor contaminants, as well as maintaining that healthy humidity level in your home to alleviate allergy and asthma triggers.

    Continuing Education class for NJ Insurance Producers

    2/24/2016 (Permalink)

    We will be hosting two (2) Continuing Education classes for 3 credits for New Jersey Insurance Property and Casualty producers on April 12 Steve Lyon will be presenting "NASTY STUFF-Essential Coverages Removed by Endorsement", with both a morning and an afternoon class being offered, see the registration form shown below.All are welcome, but prospective attendees would need to register in advance.

    How To Stock Up for Severe Weather

    2/15/2016 (Permalink)

    How to Stock Up for Severe Weather

    This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel discuss how to prepare for the next big storm

    THIS OLD HOUSE HOST KEVIN O'CONNOR AND JIM CANTORE OF THE WEATHER CHANNELTHIS OLD HOUSE TELEVISION
     
    • Overview

    • Comments

    • In this video, This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel discuss how to prepare for the next big storm.

      Steps:
      1. Keep a water supply of one gallon per day per person for three days.
      2. Have a three-day supply of canned goods, and don't forget to pack a can opener.
      3. Pack several fresh batteries, flashlights, and lanterns.
      4. Get a hand-crank flashlight that can also recharge cell phones.
      5. Place important documents and phone numbers in a waterproof case.
      6. Choose a meeting place in case family members get separated.
      7. Portable gas-powered generators must be placed outdoors; never run one in an enclosed space. Be sure to have gasoline on hand.
      8. Use a chain and padlock to secure the generator to a tree or other unmovable object.

    3 Common Furnace Repairs That Annual Maintenance May Prevent

    2/11/2016 (Permalink)

    Nothing is quite as comforting as coming home to a warm house on a cold wintry day.  Yet, chances are, you don’t think about your furnace unless it stops working.  By then, however, you may be dealing with costly repairs that could have been avoided or minimized.  Scheduling annual maintenance for your heating system is a simple step that saves money and time, and minimizes inconvenience and discomfort.

    As with any appliance that has multiple moving parts, your furnace is at risk for wear and tear. When these parts become damaged they can make your furnace less efficient or stop working altogether. Here are three common problem areas that your HVAC professional can identify before they become serious:

    The Fan

    The fan keeps warm air circulating throughout your home and has several components that require attention and maintenance.

    • Dry ball bearings can cause friction in the fan shaft.
    • Fan blades can become loose or bent.
    • Motor mounts can come loose.
    • Fan belts wear out.
    • Fan motor issues and electrical issues, including frayed wiring, affect performance, efficiency and safety.

    The Burner

    During routine maintenance the burner is inspected and cleaned to insure that it is functioning properly. Dust and dirt covering the burner components can prevent all the burners from lighting and can also cause excessive wear and tear.  This can result in uneven heating.

    The Ignition

    Today’s furnaces typically work with an electronic ignition.  There are two types: intermittent and hot surface. Dirt and grime that build up over time negatively affect the performance of both types. The intermittent pilot uses a fuel nozzle that can become clogged, blocking the gas from flowing. The dirt on the hot surface igniter can act as insulation, and prevent the igniter from becoming hot enough to light the gas jet. During a maintenance visit, the HVAC professional will clean the igniter components to help prevent these issues.

    An annual maintenance inspection is a worthwhile investment. While there are things you can do yourself to keep your furnace running smoothly such as replacing your furnace filters regularly,HVAC professionals are trained to spot potential problems that you likely won’t see.

    February Maintenance Guide

    2/8/2016 (Permalink)

    February may be a shorter month than the others but it’s still a great time of year to get your home projects done. In fact, there are many projects that are perfect to do during the winter month of February. Despite snow or icy weather, balcony garden or backyard gardening is something to think about this month. You may not be able to dig in the dirt, but most regions host their annual home and garden shows now for the spring. (Read how to make the most of attending a show like this.) It’s also a great time of year to purchase seeds and supplies for your summer vegetable or fruit containers.

    Inside the home you may be craving some change that is more in line with the upcoming season. Try a new color of paint for your walls or purchase new bed linens for a quick update. Budget friendly projects like spray painting tired old frames is another great way to insert a new interior design scheme without spending a lot of money. Organization is also a great project to focus on this month. Be realistic and start with one room or area at a time. When you reorganize you may find the need to do some minor repair work, so call in a handyman or contractor to fix up that area once and for all.

    Here are some other great projects to get done this month.

    • Host a Super Bowl party! We’ve got some great tips for setting up your TV roomfun party decorations and a few Super Bowl party don’ts.
    • Treat your loved ones on Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to buy the standard box of chocolate or make expensive dinner reservations. Try giving your loved ones the gift of a healthy and safe home. Here are some great ideas to try this year.
    • Perform a monthly smoke alarm test. Holding down the button tests the actual sound, but a more accurate test is to mimic the alarm’s ability to detect smoke. Read more about smoke alarms.
    • Deep clean appliances. This is a great month to do some quick appliance maintenance like:
      • Washing machine: Clean rubber gaskets and seals with plain vinegar on a cloth. Do a clothes-free cycle with hot water, vinegar and baking soda. Leave washing machine door open for it to dry completely. Check connection points behind the machine to ensure the hoses are in good shape.
      • Dishwasher: Use plain vinegar on a dry cloth and wipe the edges of the machine that tend to stay dirty. Remove the filter and clean it to remove stuck on food. Sprinkle the inside with baking soda until you’re ready for your next load.
      • Refrigerator: Remove food and wipe down all surfaces with a mixture of warm water and vinegar. This is a great time to throw out old leftovers and check the expiration dates of condiments. The freezer can also get a quick clean. Use a vacuum to suck up small objects like coffee grounds. Empty ice bins and add a fresh box of baking soda to remove odors.
    • Keep lawn clear of twigs, branches and other heavy objects. Don’t trample on frozen blades. Read these tips for winter lawn care.
    • Maintain flower beds and prune shrubs as needed
    • Get rid of heavy, wet snow on the roof and melt the ice on your sidewalk. Not sure what melting products to use? Here are some tips.

    How To Deep Clean an Oven

    2/2/2016 (Permalink)

    Prentiss Architects

    Regularly cleaning your oven is the best way to ensure you don’t end up with an appliance that looks older than it really is and it’s the best way to avoid baking your dinner in an unhygienic oven. A clean oven will make the whole kitchen more attractive and may even make you a happier baker. Here are three common methods for cleaning your oven.

    1. Cleaning An Oven With The Self-Cleaning Setting

    A self-cleaning oven is a well-insulated oven that heats to a very high temperature (upwards of 800′ Fahrenheit or more) and incinerates baked on food and grease. General Electric is accredited with inventing the pyrolytic cleaning (commonly called the self-cleaning) oven feature in 1963. Much like you can clean off your outdoor grill by turning up the heat and letting the debris bake off, the self-cleaning method utilizes extreme heat to remove stuck on food. But don’t be fooled by the name. Most manufacturers will recommend first removing as much grease and grime before your self-cleaning session and afterwards you’ll need to wipe off and remove the remaining ashes. If you are nervous about having your oven heat up to nearly 1000′ for over three hours you’re not alone. Many people wonder if this will damage the oven (or damage a person who accidentally touches the front of the oven) yet manufacturers assure us that a self-cleaning oven is perfectly safe to use as long as you follow the operating instructions. Some ovens require that you remove the interior racks prior to cleaning, and you don’t ever want to leave your house with this setting on. Because a self-cleaning oven burns all left-on debris to a crisp, you may see smoke or vapors coming from the oven. Households with pet birds will want to sequester them away from the oven during the self-cleaning process as the vapors be highly toxic to birds.

    Self-Cleaning Oven Pros:

    • Inexpensive (if it already comes with your oven)
    • Easy to use
    • Effectively burns off baked on debris
    • Self cleaning ovens are more insulated which makes it more energy efficient when baking
    • You don’t need to use additional oven cleaning chemicals to clean

    Self-Cleaning Oven Cons:

    • Potentially dangerous if the exterior is touched during cleaning
    • You still need to clean the oven before and after the self-cleaning session
    • Hazardous fumes and vapors are released during the process, toxic enough to kill birds
    • Strong smells may be unpleasant
    • Smoke from burning food may set off your smoke alarm

    2. Cleaning An Oven With Chemical Oven Cleaners

    Arguably the most dangerous way to clean an oven is by using an off-the-shelf chemical cleaner. Not that it doesn’t do the job; chemical cleaners use lye (along with a host of other chemicals) to magically lift off caked on grease and grime. The number one reason you won’t want to use this product is that it is incredibly hazardous to your health and the health of your family. Lye is caustic and can cause irritation to mucus membranes, eyes, skin and lungs. In fact, most manufacturers recommend wearing long gloves and goggles while using the product. Corrosive alkalis are dangerous to inhale and can damage lung tissue. Chemical cleaners may contain a combination of monoethanolamine (MEA) which is a volatile organic compound, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether, petroleum gases and many other dangerous chemicals. In fact, if you’d like to see the ratings of cleaning products like oven cleaners, check out the Environmental Working Group’s rating system of this particular brand

    Chemical Oven Cleaner Pros:

    • Easily removes baked on grease and leftover foods

    Chemical Oven Clean Cons:

    • Highly toxic fumes can damage lungs and respiratory system
    • Chemical components are known to cause cancer, damage to DNA and reproductive health, skin irritation and allergen
    • Known environmental hazards
    • Deadly poisonous if swallowed

    Remodelista?

    3. Cleaning An Oven Using Non-Toxic, Homemade Cleaners

    You might think that something as tough as baked on food would either need to be burned off by heat (self cleaning method) or by chemicals, but you’d be wrong. There are several ways to clean a dirty oven using non-toxic (and incredibly inexpensive) ingredients. In fact, most kitchen appliances can be cleaned using homemade cleaners you can easily make in a matter of seconds with products you probably already have in your pantry. Baking soda is a very effective cleaner; it’s abrasive enough to remove caked on debris but won’t scratch surfaces. It also helps remove odors. Vinegar, or lemon juice, easily cuts through grease and removes germs. Some recipes call for Castile soap, which is a vegetable based soap, and you can decide whether or not to add this ingredient to the following recipes.

    For best results, wipe off as much baked on food prior to either method and make sure oven is completely cool.

    Non toxic cleaning method #1

    • Generously sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the oven
    • Using a spray bottle, wet the baking soda with vinegar (you don’t want a puddle of vinegar). Note that the reaction of the vinegar and baking soda will cause bubbling.
    • Let sit for about 4 hours or overnight
    • Wipe away vinegar and baking soda with a textured sponge.
    • If any residue is left, simply use clean water to wipe clean

    Non toxic cleaning method #2

    • In a mixing bowl combine about 1 cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste
    • Generously coat inside of oven with paste
    • Let sit overnight
    • Remove with a damp sponge and repeat wiping until clean

    Non-Toxic Cleaning Pros:

    • Inexpensive, easy to make
    • Effective at removing debris from oven
    • Non-irritating and doesn’t produce harmful fumes
    • Not harmful to the environment
    • Can control the amount and types of ingredients used

    Non-Toxic Cleaning Cons:

    • May need to use more “elbow grease” to remove debris
    • May take longer to clean oven than other methods

    Ensemble Architecture

    How To Keep Your Oven Clean All The Time

    The best way to keep your oven clean is to prevent spills from happening in the first place. This shouldn’t be too difficult, especially as you know your baking habits. If it’s always spilled casseroles or pie, simply put your baking dishes on top of a jelly roll pan. If it’s grease spatters from weekly chicken roasts, consider covering up the chicken with foil or immediately wipe off the grease while the grease is still warm. Just like your BBQ grill, it’s much easier to wipe away drippings while they are still warm rather that bake them repeatedly and expect to get it clean later.

    Plumbers Prepare for Pipe Freezing Season

    12/8/2015 (Permalink)

    As the year comes to an end, plumbers are preparing for the longest, coldest two months of the year.

     Enlarge photo

    Shaun Stanley/Durango Herald

    Trevor Krueger, owner of custom home builders Krueger Group, uses insulation in new homes with higher R-values than required under the current building code because it can better protect plumbing pipes from freezing. He allows extra space between the exterior wall and pipes to allow for more insulation.

    January and February are widely considered in the plumbing industry to be the prime pipe-freezing months, a plight that can create huge problems and rack up costly repair bills.

    “We have that period where it never gets above 20 degrees during the day,” said Gary Roseberry of Roseberry Plumbing & Heating.

    “The problem is that not enough people understand their homes. If your thermostat is at 50 degrees, that’s not necessarily the temperature that’s reaching your pipes.”

    Run water, keep cabinet doors open, crank the thermostat and don’t neglect the heat tape is the usual advice, but those in the plumbing industry see enough repeated mistakes each year to know the tips bear repeating.

    “Some of the dumb mistakes I’ve seen every year: ‘Oh, it’s hot outside and sunny,’ so they leave the garage door open,” Roseberry said. “But if you leave the cabinet doors open for air circulation and turn the heat up, a lot of the times, plumbing will thaw itself out and they’re fine.”

    For owners of older homes dealing with the insulation they’ve got, Roseberry said the usual tricks are typically effective but not always.

    Depending on how long someone leaves the faucet running, the water could freeze the sewer line, he said. Heat tapes, which are heating cables that plug into a socket and then are wrapped around plumbing, can be effective, but homeowners often forget to plug them in come fall – or they neglect to notice the tape no longer works, until the pipes freeze.

    And frozen pipe problems aren’t limited to indoors; underground pipes can also freeze.

    Master plumber Howard Kuhfal of Master Rooter, who averages about 20 frozen pipe calls a week in January and February, said sewer lines are susceptible to freezing, particularly where the pipe has a flat spot.

    If a homeowner’s underground pipes tend to freeze, he advises hiring a plumber who can use a camera to identify the trouble spots underground.

    “If the sewer lines are under three feet deep, the water in that belly of the pipe will freeze,” he said. “If you have a problem with a sewer line freezing, and this happens every year, hire a plumber with a camera to come in there and locate the area with the flat spot that freezes.”

    Frost depth in La Plata County is about three feet underground, Kuhfal estimated, and it’s deeper in areas such as Vallecito and Purgatory. Water lines in La Plata County, at minimum, should be at least 40 inches deep or deeper, he said.

    Local builders working on new homes have the option to take some preemptive measures against pipe freezing, from the types of pipe they use to the amount of insulation.

    Kuhfal has been in the business 30 years and advises builders to use cross-link polyethylene (PEX) pipe for plumbing.

    “PEX pipe has been around La Plata County for several years,” Kuhfal said. “It freezes, contracts and goes back to its original shape. Copper will swell up and split. Plastic will freeze up and shatter.”

    Homebuilders are also adding and improving insulation in newer homes.

    Trevor Krueger of Krueger Group, which manages the construction of custom homes, said his company uses simple practices that make all the difference in preventing pipe breaks.

    For one, he installs plumbing valves when possible in interior walls, which are better insulated.

    “When pipes freeze in older homes, that’s just from not having enough insulation,” Krueger said. Insulation is measured by an R-value, which quantifies a material’s thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. The R-value standard under the city’s building code is R-19, but Krueger builds starting at R-22. In ceilings, the code is R-28, but he builds at R-45.

    Other homebuilders are also using spray foam insulation, which is applied as a liquid, then expands as it turns to a solid and offers a higher R-value per inch. “Those things don’t sound like a big difference, but it definitely is a better insulated wall,” Krueger said.

    How to Clean a Fireplace; 5 Hacks for a Safe and Warm Winter by the Fire

    11/5/2015 (Permalink)

    It’s starting to get chilly outside again, and few things seem more appealing than cozying up by the fire with a good book and a mug of hot cocoa. But whether you have a wood- or gas-burning fireplace, it’s important to clear it of debris and buildup so that it functions efficiently and you and your loved ones stay safe this season. Read on for 5 fireplace-cleaning hacks*.

    Related link: 4 Must-Read Tips for Fireplace Safety

    Cleaning a wood-burning fireplace

    Whether it’s the strangely satisfying crackles and pops, the fragrance of fresh wood, or those cool-looking tools they come with, few people can deny the allure of a traditional wood-burning fireplace.

    But with burning wood comes ash, soot, and creosote buildup that can quickly accumulate and affect the efficiency and safety of your fireplace. That’s why it’s a good idea to clean it up every fall so it’s ready to, er, fire up once winter hits.

    (By the way, you’ll want to make sure you haven’t used your fireplace for at least 72 hours before cleaning it in order to reduce the risk of starting fires outside your fireplace.)

    1. Prep for the scrub-down

    Safety first! It’s wise to wear a dust mask, rubber gloves, and even clear goggles to avoid direct contact with any harmful materials.

    Lay a plastic tarp around the hearth to protect any surrounding carpet and reduce the amount of after-work cleanup. You may also want a kneeling pad for your comfort. And remember to wear old clothes (or at least an apron) since this can get messy.

    Pro tip: Save some used coffee grounds or tea leaves to sprinkle on top of the ash and debris. That way, you’ll avoid inhaling the dust when you’re ready to sweep everything up.

    2. Remove any grates and take them outside

    Using a nylon brush, scrub soot and debris off your fireplace’s grates. When you’re done, simply rinse them off with water and wipe them dry. If you’re aiming for extra shininess, you can use metal polish to get that trademark gleam.

    Related link: Fall Home Maintenance Tricks You’d Be Crazy Not To Try

    3. Get rid of ash piles

    To avoid breathing in ash and dust, sprinkle some used coffee grounds or tea leaves over the piles of debris in your fireplace. You can sweep everything up with a brush and dustpan and then place it in a metal bin or bucket outside and away from your home.

    4. Start scrubbing

    Next, scrub the fireplace walls with the same nylon brush you used on the grates. Work your way from the top of each wall to the bottom. It also helps to line the bottom of your fireplace with newspaper for easier cleanup.

    5. Tidy up the hearth

    You’re almost done! Carefully gather up the plastic tarp and soot-covered newspaper and dispose of them outside. Vacuum any remaining debris on and around the hearth and spray the sooty areas with water.

    Then apply hearth cleaner and give those areas a good rub. (Spraying the areas with water first prevents the hearth cleaner from soaking in too quickly, which tends to be more of an issue with brick fireplaces.)

    Rinse the cleaner off with a clean sponge and let it air-dry. Then put the grates you cleaned back inside. Voilà — you now have a clean fireplace!

    But what if you have a gas-burning fireplace, you ask?

    How to clean a gas fireplace

    Luckily, gas-burning fireplaces are pretty low maintenance and not many steps are required to clean one out for this winter’s use.

    It’s really simple: use your vacuum to clear out ash and debris in or around the vents of the fireplace. Then, make sure that gas logs are positioned properly, wipe down any glass doors with a non-ammonia-based cleaner, and give yourself a pat on the back — your fireplace is now ready to go.

    Related link: 5 Green Home Tipes This Winter Holiday (and Convincing Cases for Each)

    What about the chimney?

    Creosote, which is essentially wood tar, is extremely flammable and can accumulate along the flue walls of your chimney, presenting a major safety issue. In fact, it’s one of the main causes of chimney fires.

    It’s generally recommended that you have a licensed chimney specialist come out once a year to inspect for dangerous buildup — especially if you use your fireplace frequently.

    According to HomeAdvisor, most Americans spend between $123 and $314 for a chimney sweep to inspect and clean their chimney. That’s nothing compared to the thousands of dollars you could spend after a catastrophic chimney fire. If you’re a homeowner, make sure you have homeowners insurance, which can financially protect you from fire damage and so much more.

    Cleaning A Kitchen Range Exhaust System

    10/28/2015 (Permalink)

    The ventilation system above or next to your stove top serves several important functions in the kitchen. It helps remove moisture, smoke and odors, helps improve indoor air quality, and most importantly, helps trap flammable, aerated grease that is creating during the cooking process. Some states or cities require a ventilation hood to be present in the kitchen but even if your area doesn’t require one, you’ll want to make sure one is installed in your kitchen. Regularly cleaning and maintaining this ventilation system will help it function better, remove bacteria and mold, and reduce the risk of a kitchen fire.

    Why your kitchen needs an exhaust system

    In addition to whisking away odors, steam and smoke, a good ventilation or exhaust system will suck in and trap tiny grease and oil particles that would otherwise end up drifting throughout the kitchen and into rest of the home. Additionally, if you cook with natural gas, understand that a certain amount of nitrogen dioxide (along with carbon monoxide and formaldehyde) may be produced when cooking. These chemicals are bad for the lungs and can aggravate people with asthma or respiratory issues. When cooking, always turn on the exhaust system to help improve the indoor air quality.

    How to clean the hood, filters and ventilation system

    The exhaust system filters act as a trap for grease and oil and should be cleaned or replaced often. How often depends upon the type of filter system as well as how often you cook. If you wok fry food weekly, for example, a monthly cleaning will be necessary. But most find that a regular schedule of cleaning the filters every 3 months is the best way to keep a routine that you can stick to. Recirculating hoods use charcoal disposable filters and should be replaced every 6 to 12 months. Check with your manufacturer for more specific replacement or cleaning instructions.

    To clean the wire mesh filters first remove them from the hood or ventilation system. You can either wash them by hand with warm soapy water (some find that baking soda works great too) or you can place them in an empty dishwasher and run a full cycle. You may need to repeat these methods if they are particularly greasy. Once they are clean, inspect them to insure there is no rusted or broken parts. Let them dry completely before placing them back in the ventilation system.

    The rest of the ventilation system, like the hood, should also be periodically cleaned. Most hoods are made from stainless steel so use a cleaning product designed for this material or use one of ournon-toxic stainless steel cleaning recipes here.  You’ll want to remove dust, grease and debris and always rub the stainless steel in the direction of the grain.

    Commercial kitchens regularly have the entire exhaust system cleaned to remove grease and prevent dangerous fires. Homeowners can have this done as well; find a professional who is a member of the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association.

    What happens if you don’t clean the stove ventilation system

    The three biggest reasons for keeping the filters and ventilation hood clean are better indoor air quality, reduction of bacteria and mold, and fire risk reduction. As mentioned above, having a functioning and clean ventilation system will help create a healthier indoor air quality. This is especially important in the cooler months of fall and winter when many homeowners are cooking inside more and have the windows closed.

    The warm and moist environment directly above a hot stove top is perfect for growing bacteria and mold, especially when there is a steady supply of food particles and oils. Dust can also stick to this grease buildup and create a nasty mess, not to mention a bad smell.

    Kitchen fires are a very real hazard that you need to be aware of. When cooking on the stove, high heat mixed with oil can create a flame. If this flame is high enough, or near enough a grease-soaked filter, the flames can catch and spread. A grease or cooking fire can be very scary, spread quickly, and is responsible for 50% of reported residential house fires every year. Always keep a fire extinguisher labeled “for cooking fires” or with a “K” to put out a kitchen grease fire..

    Clogged Filter Monitor Indicates Time To Replace HVAC Filters

    10/20/2015 (Permalink)

    AUSTIN, Texas — Airflow1 has announced a clogged filter monitor, called the CFM-GM, that signals the ideal time to replace HVAC air filters, which the company says can help homeowners keep a cleaner indoor environment, reduce the need for maintenance on HVAC equipment, and trim energy costs. The company currently has a Kickstarter campaign to fund the final development and production of the device.

    Airflow1 notes that replacing HVAC air filters is necessary to keep equipment running at optimal efficiency, but knowing exactly when to replace them is equally important. Unfortunately, there has never been an easy or precise way to address that question. Filters become more efficient the longer they’re in place, so replacing one too soon is wasteful. But there comes a point when a filter is no longer performing at all, and the HVAC unit suffers a drop in efficiency, not to mention the accumulation of dust and dirt on the components and in the indoor environment. By some estimates, inefficient HVAC units waste up to a billion dollars in electricity each month.

    Seeing this problem and finding there was no straightforward way to check for clogged air filters, engineer and product developer Mike Sweaton set out to design a solution that could adapt to most standard HVAC units. “My goals were to develop a product that was easy to install and see, cost effective for homeowners, and most of all, accurate. The reality is that many people change their filters on a set schedule, but that may not be ideal from a cost and resource-use perspective. Once in full production, I believe the CFM-GM will make a tremendous difference in our nation’s energy usage.”

    The CFM-GM is said to allow homeowners to find the “sweet spot” — the moment just before a filter clogs and loses its efficiency. The device works by sensing the differential air pressure between the front and the back of the filter. Sweaton said he conducted rigorous testing and research to identify the most robust, accurate, and reliable pressure sensors.

    The CFM-GM is designed to work with 1-inch width filters mounted in a wall or ceiling return grille. The device is also compatible with Supermechanical’s Twine, a wireless home monitoring system.

    Preparing Your Home for Winter; 8 Fall Maintenance Hacks for Cold-Weather Comfort

    10/14/2015 (Permalink)

    We all look forward to fall’s festivities. But taking the time to prepare your home for winter (before it arrives) can help ensure you’re cozying up by the fireside — worry-free — once cold weather rolls around. Find out how with these 8 simple hacks.

     

    Ahhh, fall is finally here! The leaves are changing, there’s a crisp coolness in the air, and our favorite pumpkin-flavored treats line store shelves once more. Decorating and meal-prepping might be the first things on your mind when it comes to preparing your home for the colder months — but the National Weather Service is predicting strong winter storms that could affect homeowners across the country this year.

    Here are 8 important fall maintenance tips that can make all the difference once winter’s first freeze hits.

    1. Clear out your gutters

    All those colorful leaves falling from the trees sure are pretty — but they also pile up pretty quickly in your home’s gutters.

    Excess debris can lead to clogs (or ice dams in wintery conditions), which can prevent gutters from draining properly. In turn, there’s a chance water could seep into your home since it has nowhere else to escape to, causing a multitude of issues like damage to your valuables, mold growth, and even structural rot.

    Before winter hits, clear your house’s gutters of leaves and any other debris that might’ve accumulated during the summer months. It also helps to run water through the gutters afterward to check for any leaks or misalignments that could damage your home.

    Related link: Fall Home Maintenance Tricks You’d Be Crazy Not To Try

    2. Inspect for air leaks

    Things like damaged weather stripping and small cracks in your home’s structure allow warm air to escape, causing your heater to go into overdrive to keep your place warm.

    The solution to your chilly house and high utility bills is pretty simple: before it gets wintery outside, inspect your home’s windows, doorways, and any other places where air might be able to enter or exit.

    You can use caulking to stop leaks in the stationary components of your home (like a crack in your doorframe) and weather stripping to insulate the moving components (like windows and doors).

    Related link: Top 6 Reasons to Winterize Your Home

    3. Have your heating system checked

    Home just doesn’t feel like home if a malfunctioning heater is leaving you with the chills. And in parts of the country with freezing temps, it can be a much more serious situation.

    That’s why it’s wise to have a licensed contractor come out to inspect your heater at least once a year, especially before the weather outside becomes frightful.

    4. Prepare your pipes

    Get to know where the pipelines in your house are located and make sure to inspect them every autumn (at least).

    Simply patch any small leaks with heat tape to help reduce weaknesses that might cause the pipe to burst in freezing weather. And you can further protect any exposed outdoor pipes by insulating them with foam or rubber pipe wraps, which can be found at your local hardware store.

    For larger leaks or pipeline problems, it’s always a good idea to play it safe and call the pros.

    5. Drain any outside faucets and irrigation systems 

    Speaking of bursting pipes, it’s important to pay attention to the water systems immediately outside your place too. Undrained water in outdoor faucets and irrigation systems can expand when frozen and cause a pipe to burst.

    Draining faucets is simple enough: just pack away your garden hoses in the garage for the winter and let out any remaining water — easy as that!

    Irrigation systems, on the other hand, often vary in the way they should be maintained. It’s best to call a professional who has experience with underground water systems, just to cover all your bases.

    6. Have your roof inspected

    For your safety, a full-blown roof inspection should be done professionally. The cost to hire an inspector can be as low as a little over $200 and can prevent seriously hefty repair expenses down the line if a winter storm wreaks havoc on your roof and you don’t have sufficient insurance coverage to cover repair costs.

    Reinforcing your roof now can help you avoid a whole host of hazards, like air and water leaks, water damage, mold, and more — all of which could put a damper on your seasonal festivities (and your wallet).

    7. Restock cold-weather home essentials

    Key items like rock salt or kitty litter, snow shovels, space heaters, extra batteries, and heated blankets can help make your home both more functional and comfortable during wintertime. Stock up on these helpful winter wares ahead of time to help avoid any extra hassle or stress come holiday season.

    Related link: Tips for Before, During, and After a Winter Power Outage

    8. Take a peek at your homeowners insurance

    Believe it or not, your homeowners policy could come to the rescue for a whole host of cold-weather mishaps.

    Whether a hailstorm leaves holes in your roof, a vandal breaks into your home and destroys valuables while you’re out holiday shopping, or the weight of snow and ice results in structural damage to your house,homeowners insurance could help pay to repair or replace your loss

    7 Steps Before Using Your Furnace

    10/9/2015 (Permalink)

    Before you know it, winter will be here! If you live in Colorado, you know that the weather can turn from warm and moderate to cold and snowy almost overnight. Typically, there is a spell of cold weather in October or November, followed by a warming trend for a few weeks, and then winter hits altogether. The problem with the short spell of cold weather that typically hits during October or November is that it causes homeowners to rush to turn on their heat before their HVAC system has been tuned up for the cold season.

    Now is a good time of year to call your furnace repair company to schedule your annual tune-up and maintenance. But besides scheduling your appointment, make sure to follow these seven steps which will make sure your furnace is ready to heat your home this winter:

    1. Change your air filter. During your annual furnace tune-up appointment, your furnace repair technician may replace your air filter with a new one. However, this is a task that you can complete on your own before your appointment if you think you will run your furnace before your scheduled furnace tune-up.
    2. Review the settings on your thermostat. You might not have looked at the winter settings on your thermostat for six months. Make sure to check that the settings are correct and make any necessary adjustments. If you have a programmable thermostat and you are unsure how to set it correctly, your furnace repair company should be able to assist you.
    3. Make sure all air vents are open. An HVAC system functions the best when the flow of air throughout your home is unobstructed. Therefore, make sure all air vents are open and that return air registers are not blocked by furniture or other items such as pictures or mirrors hanging on the wall.
    4. Clean the area around your furnace. If your home is set up like many, your furnace probably sits in a basement, a closet or a room that gets very little use. It’s likely that dust and debris gathered around the furnace over the course of many months. Make sure to sweep or vacuum the area that surrounds your furnace so the dust and debris is not pulled into the system when it runs.
    5. Check your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms. A home’s carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms should be checked on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to make a habit of checking to make sure these safety items work well at the beginning of each and every season.
    6. Have your air ducts cleaned. Many people have their air ducts cleaned on an annual basis. If you want to make sure the dust, debris and pollutants are removed from your air vents before you turn on your furnace for the season, now is a good time to schedule your appointment.
    7. Turn on your furnace and make sure it works. The best way to know if your furnace is set for cold weather is to test it. Wait for a cool day and turn on the system. Make sure it heats your home to the temperature you desire.

    Joaquin Now a Hurricane, Still Heading for NJ

    9/30/2015 (Permalink)

    Current Situation

    As of its 8 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Center has upgraded Joaquin to a category 1 Hurricane. Estimated sustained winds are at 75.

    Hurricane warnings have been posted for part of the Bahamas. No watches or warnings have been issued for the U.S. yet.

    The latest official track looks pretty ominous for the Garden State, with most of the state back in that “cone of uncertainty”. Remember, the white markers on the following graphic indicate the most likely position of the center of the storm by early Monday morning – they do not give any information regarding the size or extent of the storm.

    8 a.m. update on Hurricane Joaquin from the National Hurricane Center

    Forecast Track

    Confidence is growing that we are going to see some really messy weather from Joaquin through early next week. Here’s the latest spaghetti plot, showing Joaquin’s expected track according to 32 different forecast models…

    Spaghetti plot of forecast track models for Joaquin, as of 2 a.m. on September 9/30. (TropicalTidbits.com)

    Blur your eyes a little while staring at that jumbled mess, and you will see the vast majority of these models eventually turn Joaquin toward the United States. The general consensus seems to be toward a landfall south of New Jersey, somewhere between the Delmarva and the Carolinas. As I mentioned yesterday, it really doesn’t matter where along the coast the storm eventually makes landfall – any of these solutions would include some degree of weather and/or surf problems for New Jersey.

    However… the landfalling hurricane solution is still not a 100% sure bet… The spaghetti plot above indicates a number of outliers that turn Joaquin eastward toward the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. That also includes the almighty European model, which rapidly sweeps Joaquin out to sea, before the east coast even sees a drop of rain from the storm. That alone is enough fodder to keep some doubts and some hesitation in today’s forecast. Until and unless the Euro model flips to match the others, it is difficult to offer a high confidence forecast.

    Forecast Intensity

    Observations via satellite and hurricane hunters have so far painted Joaquin as a stronger storm than models have indicated. Now, the vast majority of forecast models showed Joaquin will become a category 1 hurricane Wednesday (which it did), and potentially strengthening to a category 2 hurricane by Thursday afternoon.

    Graph of forecasted intensity for Joaquin, as of 2 a.m. on September 9/30. (TropicalTidbits.com)

    The rapid decrease in intensity after the 96-hour mark (early Sunday morning) is expected as Joaquin potentially comes close to U.S. Cooler water and friction will cause the storm to lose some oomph as the storm approaches landfall.

    Worst Case Scenario for New Jersey

    Yesterday, I presented three potential scenarios for the track of Joaquin. I highly recommend you refresh your memory as to these options before reading further.

    READ: 3 Joaquin Track Scenarios

    The best case scenario for New Jersey at this point would still be if the storm take the “out to sea” track, according to the Euro model among others. We would still potentially see some tropically induced heavy rain, and some rough surf… while the wind and flooding would be marginal at best.

    Tropical IR satellite image of Joaquin, from the morning of September 30, 2015. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

    Meanwhile, the current most likely scenario is pretty close to the worst case scenario. Following a landfall somewhere between Delaware and South Carolina, Joaquin would track up the coast. We would still have the torrential rain threat – upwards of 5 to 8 inches (or more). We would still have the wind threat – with 50+ mph gusts (I’ve seen as high as an 80 mph gust on one model this morning). And depending how close the storm gets to the Jersey Shore, we could still have the storm surge and coastal flooding threat- 3+ foot surge would cause significant coastal erosion.

    A lot of New Jerseyans have been asking about how the impacts of Joaquin will play out late this week through the weekend. Here is my attempt at a timeline. This is frankly an educated guess at the forecast. Please keep in mind, this forecast is really volatile, and is very much subject to change…

    Wednesday 9/30: Overnight steady rain has ended, but scattered showers remain possible through lunchtime. Otherwise, cloudy and breezy (20 mph).Thursday 10/1: Overcast skies, a few showers, and a brisk northerly wind (25 mph) will keep us cool in the lower 60s. Still no Joaquin impacts. Friday 10/2: An ejection of convection way ahead of Joaquin could bring us a round of heavy rain and gusty winds. Saturday 10/3: Actually looks pretty tranquil – a few showers will be possible, and wind gusts over 40 mph will be possible. Sunday 10/4: Joaquin makes landfall just south of New Jersey. Heavy rain and very strong wind gusts (50+ mph) enter the region. Rough surf and the potential for 3+ foot storm surge begin.

    Monday 10/5: Potential tropical storm effects continue, with rain eventual tapering off from south to north

    Tuesday 10/6: Storm wraps up with a few leftover showers, a stiff breeze (20 mph), and seasonably cool temperatures.

    A Final Note on Uncertainty

    This has been one of the most complicated storm forecasts in recent memory, given the wide variety of model tracks and the inconsistency of each model from run to run. While there remain some question marks regarding this storm’s precise track and timing, we are becoming more comfortable and more confident that the impacts on New Jersey and the entire eastern seaboard will be significant. That would be even more true if the European model resolved to match most of the other storm track solutions.

    Is this storm going to be as bad as Sandy? Highly doubtful. Sandy was a one-of-a-kind storm that made direct landfall in New Jersey, and came from a completely different direction.

    Is this storm still worth watching for New Jerseyans? Absolutely. No matter where you live in New Jersey, your plans for this weekend through early next week are in jeopardy. It’s time to start thinking about contingencies, and whether you have enough food and other supplies to last through the weekend.



    Read More: Joaquin now a hurricane, still heading for NJ | http://nj1015.com/joaquin-still-a-tropical-storm-still-heading-toward-n-j/?trackback=tsmclip

    Brace Yourself, Winter Is Coming

    9/25/2015 (Permalink)

    You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to know that winters these days are wild. When colder months roll around, the only thing that’s certain is that the weather will be unpredictable. Whether it’s ice storms across the North East, or flash floods throughout the South West, being prepared is the best defense.

    Check these nine home projects to weatherproof your place and make sure you have a cozy winter.

    1. Get a winter-ready roof. A leaking roof makes for a messy, expensive, winter. Inside the house, dark ceiling stains or sagging spots mean a roof repair is in order. Outside, confirm shingles have no signs of splitting, disintegration, or looseness. If your roof is tricky to access—or you have tile shingles—hire a specialist to do the inspection. It’s not worth the broken bones or broken tiles!
    1. Clean those gutters. You could break out the ladders and gloves, root around in old wet leaves… or do yourself a favor and hire someone who specializes in gutters to handle this arduous task for you. A professional will safely reach the roof, clear out the muck, and look for signs of wear and tear that might need repair.
    1. Tuck up your trees. If winter storms are bad, unwieldy trees can do serious damage to homes, vehicles—even people. Call in a tree trimming service to give an assessment of your yard and tree safety. Southeastern cities such as Miami,Houston, and New Orleans benefit from trim trees during hurricane season as well.
    1. Tune up your heat source – and save money on heating bills. Have a fireplace or heater? Get it ready for winter. Buildup in a fireplace is a serious fire hazard. Call in an expert to take care of black dust or residue. For heaters, call for a routine maintenance check before the freezing temps hit.
    1. Winterize your windows and doors. Apply weather stripping around doors to seal in heat and keep out cold. Use caulk to seal windows in tight and keep out icy winds. Even cities with moderate winter climates like Los Angeles benefit from these quick fixes. Best of all, it’s a cheap energy saver!
    1. Schedule your holiday lighting installation. Winter prep is not all chores! Decorating is a fabulous project to look forward to. Think big this year with a gorgeous light display that’ll have all the neighbors jealous. Give Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival a run for their money.
    1. Winterize the yard. Bring in small plants that can’t survive a freeze like the ones that strike Dallas each winter. For cities that deep freeze, like Chicago and Boston, turn off outdoor watering systems to avoid bursting pipes. Regardless of location, every yard benefits when you load up the truck—or hire someone to do the dirty work for you—and haul away dead bushes, old leaves, and yard waste. When rotting debris stays on the lawn all winter, expect brown spots and blight come spring.
    1. Prep the pool. Love the summertime fun of playing in the pool? Make sure it gets the winterizing treatment before snows and freezing temperatures hit. Cities like Newark that enjoy both hot and cold temperatures can call in a pool specialist or winterize themselves to make sure the pool survives the winter.
    1. Finish your to-do list. Getting winter ready is a great excuse to fix a leaky faucet, repair the creaking washing machine, and replace the springs on the garage door. Everything is more manageable when the weather is warmer. Either get out the toolbox or hire a handyperson—all you’ll have to worry about when the temperature drops is which movie to watch.

    'Drenching' Thunderstorms Will End N.J. Drought, Torrid Heat

    9/9/2015 (Permalink)

    WEATHER ALERT: 'Drenching' Thunderstorms Will End N.J. Drought, Torrid Heat

    New Jersey has essentially gone 18 days without rain, and a heat wave has forced a number of school districts to close early.

    It all should end tonight.

    A torrid upper-90-degree heat wave that’s capped an 18-day drought should come to end Wednesday night and Thursday as drenching thunderstorms are expected to arrive in the region.

    The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for all of New Jersey, saying showers and thunderstorms producing heavy rain may lead to flooding in poor drainage and low-lying areas through Thursday.

    ”We are looking at a front this evening and we’re looking at some pretty good rain, just a lot of rain,” said Jim Bunker, a National Weather Service Meteorologist.

    Despite having a “small trace” of rain on Aug. 31, New Jersey hasn’t had anything since Aug. 21, when .52 inches fell in the state.

    A number of towns have imposed water restrictions, and a numbers of school districts closed early on Tuesday as they battle the effects of heat and drought.

    El Nino Expected to be a Bear

    9/3/2015 (Permalink)

    The current El Nino weather pattern may be on track to become one of the strongest in more than half a century, experts at the World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday.

    The El Nino event involves a shift in winds in the Pacific Ocean along the equator every few years, warming the water more than usual and triggering a change in global weather patterns.

    The Geneva-based U.N. body says ocean and atmospheric conditions over the tropical Pacific and most expert models and opinion point to a strengthening of the El Nino in the second half of 2015. This El Nino, the first since 1997-98, follows the rapid melting of arctic sea ice and snow cover in the northern hemisphere over the last few years.

    Weather Whys: An Autumn forecast based on the LRC & El NinoKJRH - Tulsa, OK

    "This is a new planet. Will the two patterns reinforce each other or cancel each other?" said David Carlson, director of WMO's World Climate Research program. "We have no precedent for this situation."

    A WMO statement Tuesday said models indicate ocean temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific are likely to reach peaks that could make this El Nino among the four strongest since 1950. Peak strength is expected between October and January.

    [READ: Climate Change and the California Drought]

    El Nino's impact this year on California is one lingering question. The coast of California, which has faced four years of drought, would traditionally get a lot of rain from the El Nino weather pattern, officials said.

    WMO director of climate prediction Maxx Dilley said farmers, rescue officials and reservoir operators are among those bracing for El Nino's impact.

    The High Cost of Plumbing Leaks

    8/28/2015 (Permalink)

    Repair leaks promptly - If you have a leaky faucet, toilet or pipe in your home, fix it immediately before it becomes a much bigger and more expensive problem. Even if it’s a slow leak, such as a dripping faucet, it can account for more than 10 percent of your water usage.

    If you don’t know if you have a leak, your water meter readings can provide the clue. When water is not in use, check the meter twice in a two-hour time span. If the readings change, then there is a leak somewhere in your home.

    If you can't determine the source of the leak but your meter readings indicate you definitely have one, call in a professional plumber. You may have a leaky pipe behind a wall, and if left alone, will cause extensive damage that ruins the drywall, deteriorates the framing over time and causes mold growth. A leaky pipe is also an early sign of a burst pipe, which will result in greater damage to your home.

    Stop a running toilet - A running toilet can cost you hundreds of dollars and is a major contribution to a costly water bill. It is generally the result of broken internal parts. It could be that a simple repair on the valves is needed, or there could be a larger issue.

    "Many people think that showering or doing laundry uses the most water, but actually, the toilet accounts for the largest use of water in a home. If you have a leaky or running toilet, your water bill can skyrocket," explained Tim Flynn, owner. "If you hear the toilet running or it flushes slowly or overflows often, get it checked out right away. Clogged drains waste water as well and can become a major problem."

    Waiting for hot water - If you turn on the sink or shower and wait anywhere from 30 seconds to over a minute for the water to heat up, precious gallons of clean water go down the drain. You are paying for that water to get hot while it runs. Consider replacing your traditional storage water heater with a Tankless Water Heater or installing a Hot Water Recirculating System. Recirculation pumps will get the water to the faucet faster and keep it hot in the line longer. They usually cost approximately $1000, which can be recouped in about two and a half years. Either system will ensure immediate delivery of hot water when you need it and provide significant water savings.

    Fire Prevention & Safety Tips; American Red Cross

    8/28/2015 (Permalink)

    Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you may have just two minutes to escape?

    The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. Sixty percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.

    Fire Safety Tips

    If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help.

    Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

    Test smoke alarms once a month, if they’re not working, change the batteries.

    Talk with all household members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.

    Dealing with Mold and Humidity Threats in Vacation Residences

    8/11/2015 (Permalink)

    A closed-up vacation house can be a breeding ground for mold in the summer months. Moisture from a nearby lake or river, or the humidity in the air, can lead to that musty odor vacationers have come to expect upon arriving at their weekend getaway.

    Mold is a particularly stealthy foe. It exists nearly everywhere in an inactive state, and all it needs to grow is a food source (drywall will do nicely), and a source of moisture, such as high humidity.

    To get rid of the damp odor, most homeowners will turn on the air conditioner and maybe a dehumidifier and wait for the smell to go away. While much of the odor may dissipate in a few hours, the mold is still there. And, when they leave for a week, it’s back again when they return.

    That smell is more than just unpleasant; it’s an indication that mold is actively growing, triggering allergies and affecting health. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow and spread and can damage walls, ceilings, carpeting, and more. Every time the house is closed up and the a/c is turned off, the moisture creeps back in and the mold begins growing again.

    MOISTURE SOLUTIONS

    What can HVAC contractors do to help? First, it’s important to stress to customers that the key to preventing mold is to eliminate moisture. The first step is to address any leaks in roofing, chimneys, and foundations. Perhaps you can recommend someone who can do a thorough check and perform the repairs necessary to stop the leaks. If mold remediation is necessary, your customer should get bids from several companies that specialize in this, as it can be costly.

    Reducing humidity through air conditioning is a key to controlling mold, but, of course, leaving the a/c on all summer long will run up utility bills. Fresh outside air is also critical, but vacation homeowners won’t want to leave windows open while they’re not using the property.

    Some relatively new offerings in air conditioning systems can help manage mold problems. One example is a small-duct, high-velocity air handler, which has a unique cooling coil that removes 30 percent more humidity from the air than a traditional system. Eliminating moisture is critical in avoiding mold growth, so this feature is particularly important.

    Another helpful technology is a continuously operating outdoor inverter unit that works so efficiently that homeowners can leave it on while they’re away without breaking the bank. It runs on various speeds — typically a very low speed — always striving for the most efficient operation by making small, incremental changes to keep a constant temperature. In a traditional system, every time the system cycles on it must ramp up to full operating power, requiring a tremendous amount of energy. You won’t have this issue with the inverter unit.

    When cooling a summer home, the inverter technology is a great way for customers to keep air conditioning going when they’re gone, but at a lower cost.

    Another great option is a ventilation system operated by a programmable control board. Based on the size of the home, the control board calculates how much fresh outside air to bring in at all times, opening and closing dampers as needed to maintain a healthy level of fresh air. Look for options that meet ASHRAE 62.2 standards for IAQ.

    These newer technologies can go a long way toward reducing energy consumption while letting fresh air in and keeping mold problems at bay. More savings and fewer molds mean a healthier and happier vacation for everyone. 

    Priority #1: Job Safety

    7/30/2015 (Permalink)

    Safety should always be at the front of our minds on any job – from biohazard cleanup to fire restoration. But the truth is, once our mind is focused on the job at hand, it’s easy to forget simple ways to keep ourselves and our team safe.  OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was established in 1971 to help ensure employees have a workplace free from recognized hazards. While OSHA does help with safety, no one agency can be responsible for the safety of everyone every day. It’s no secret safety issues increase following a fire, flood or other disaster. So it’s up to restoration contractors and technicians to understand the risks and be trained to handle them whether it be high levels of bacteria in a flooded home, or mold on a basement wall. Basic Safety Risks  Here are some safety risks to consider specifically related to restoration and remediation work, and very simple safety tips to keep in mind: 

    • Structural integrity issues caused by fire or flood damage -- don’t walk on surfaces that are not stable.
    • Possible exposures from toxic chemical substances generated during a fire or in flood water -- wear rubber boots and gloves.
    • A variety of sharp metal objects, razor blades, jagged edges – use care when handling and clean any cuts or wounds.
    • Breathing dust containing asbestos or other toxic materials – wear proper filtration masks.
    • Eye injuries from flying debris, dust, contaminated water and cleaning chemicals – wear safety goggles.
    • Carbon monoxide from propane or gas fired generators or other equipment – do not work in these areas.
    • Ladders – avoid electrical wires, position at a safe angle; don’t place on unstable surfaces.
    • Chain saws and other power tools– follow manufacturer’s instructions and don’t overreach.
    • Trucks or other heavy equipment backing up or being moved – always be alert on the job.
    • Remediating death scenes (may include blood or bodily fluids) – use gloves and other PPE (personal protection equipment) like hazmat suits.
    Beyond PPE’s Now, let’s dive a little deeper. Workers must avoid exposures to microbial contamination and chemicals via skin contact, inhalation, and ingestion. This requires the use of PPE’s and good personal hygiene. Washing hands often and not eating in areas where work is being performed are two simple practices that should not be overlooked.  Even with the proper PPE’s, physical and emotional stress can take a toll. Pace yourself and take frequent breaks. Keep a watchful eye on those helping with cleanup and be vigilant of your surroundings. Drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated. Seek medical attention if your body temperature exceeds 103degrees Fahrenheit, you experience dizziness or nausea or you have other health concerns. Talk to your primary care physician about tetanus or other vaccinations you may need. Handling Chemicals Technicians should also be trained to select and use appropriate cleaning chemicals, disinfectants and protectors. For example, bleach, while readily available and inexpensive, is a caustic and hazardous chemical. It can cause harm to human skin and mucus membranes, is corrosive to metals, is readily inactivated by organic matter, produces irritating fumes, and can generate deadly chlorine gas or form explosive compounds if inadvertently mixed with ammonia or ammonia-containing products. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported in 2004 that there were over 57,000 exposures, major or minor, reported from bleach across the United States. When using any chemical, care should also be taken to allow adequate dwell time for EPA registered disinfectants. All EPA labeled directions must be followed. Moreover, using a chemical that may be “safer” and less toxic may not be strong enough to inactivate target organisms. There is no doubt the most efficient method to stay safe is to constantly be aware of your work area surroundings and follow OSHA and industry guidelines. Safety is everybody’s job. Additional Resources Going beyond those very basic rules of worksite safety, following industry guidelines such as S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration, the S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation, and the NIDR Fire Guidelines, provide additional, more specificknowledge for various restoration and remediation situations. Plus, OSHA, the EPA and organizations like the American Red Crossand FEMA are excellent resources and their websites provide guidance free of charge.

    It's The Water You Don't See

    7/27/2015 (Permalink)

    Even small water damages have the potential

    to cause serious structural and indoor air

    quality issues over time.

    The key to avoiding costly future restoration

    is to handle every water problem as a real

    threat to your property. SERVPRO® Franchise

    Professionals have the equipment, training and

    experience to find and dry unseen water before

    secondary damages occur. The proper equipment

    makes a measurable difference in reducing the

    damage expense during a fire or water loss.

    When time matters, technology and equipment

    must be counted on to perform. Your local

    SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals will answer

    your call with fast action and a full arsenal of

    drying equipment. Here are a few of the tools

    used by your local SERVPRO® Franchise

    Professionals.

    • Moisture Sensors are used to detect moisture in carpets, baseboards and walls.
    • Moisture Meters (pictured) are used to determine the actual moisture content of various materials. The moisture tester provides accurate readings, allowing SERVPRO®  Franchise Professionals to monitor the drying process.
    • Thermohygrometers measure temperature and relative humidity. When armed with this information, SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals can calculate and create an environment most condusive to drying. When facing a contaminated water loss, it is not only important to dry the structure, but the structure must also be disinfected and often deodorized.
    • Ultra Low-Volume (ULV) Foggers will atomize liquid deodorizing agents, producing a fine mist that can easily penetrate the site where odor-causing residues may accumulate. This device can also be used to inject fungicides and disinfectants into wall cavities and other hard-to-reach areas.
    • Thermal Foggers dispense solvent-based products by creating a dense fog. The fog consists of tiny particles of deodorant solution that attach to and neutralize odor causing particles.

    The bottom line? Your local SERVPRO®

    Franchise Professionals have the training and

    equipment to help make it “Like it never even

    happened.” 

    Hiring Opportunity

    7/23/2015 (Permalink)

    Hiring opportunity, see below:

    Property Restoration Crew Chief (Water, Fire, Mold Damages)

    An expanding emergency services provider located in Garwood, New Jersey is looking for a Crew Chief to join our team. This is an exciting opportunity for a hardworking, self-motivated individual. The Crew Chief will report directly to the Production Manager. He/she will perform cleaning and restoration work on residential and commercial properties in the areas of water, fire, mold damage and specialty cleaning.

    The Crew Chief will begin as a "Crew Chief in Training" and go through an approximate 6 month training program before becoming a Crew Chief.

    The position includes mandatory on-call rotations and overtime as needed. These on-call and overtime shifts can happen on short notice. The Company strives to maintain a work/life balance; however, this position requires an individual with a flexible schedule and who is responsible, dependable and responsive to the needs of the office.

    The ideal candidate will:

    * Have a valid driver's license, with a clean record

    * Have a positive attitude for customer service

    * Be a hardworking team member

    * Be open to learning, training and growing with our organization

    The Company offers paid vacation and paid holidays.
    Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) (M/F/D/V)

    If interested, please forward a resume via email to: SERVPRO8909@verizon.net, or via fax: 973-994-1641.

      

    How To Prepare for a Flood

    7/18/2015 (Permalink)

    Floods are the most common disaster for homes in the US. Whether a flood is from torrential rains, flash floods, rising rivers, or a leak inside the home, a flood can cause serious damage to your house. If the horrible images of Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina are still fresh in your mind, you know just how powerful a sudden surge of water can be. According to FloodSmart, every home is at risk of a flood, but regions are usually divided up by low, medium and high-risk areas. Unfortunately, even homes located in flood-prone areas don’t have flood insurance, making the cleanup and recovery efforts even more stressful for homeowners.

    Create a home inventory that you can access during a flood

    It’s a smart idea to have an inventory of your home and personal possessions. Insurance companies require thorough inventories in order to compensate a policyholder. So whether the loss of belongings is from break-ins, floods, fires or other disasters, it’s a good idea to keep an accurate record of what you own. Read this article to learn more about different ways to keep track of your inventory. During an actual flood, it’s a good idea to take photographs of your home (if it is safe to do so). This can also help during the documentation process. Keep a home inventory somewhere safe and accessible, like in cloud storage, and remember that when a flood occurs, you may need to evacuate your home.

    Store important documents and information outside of your home

    Some families like to keep important objects like passports, jewelry, cash or other paper goods in a fireproof safe. But when a flood occurs, these safes may not be accessible. It may be a good idea to keep certain belongings in a safe deposit box at your bank. Of course, if your region regularly floods, you’ll want to ensure that this outside facility is secure from flooding. Keep in mind that if a flood has occurred in your town, the bank may not be accessible for quite some time.

    Advice for the basement or rooms below ground

    If your live in an area that floods regularly, or if you are concerned about flooding, you’ll want to think carefully about which items you store in your basement. If your basement is where valuables are kept, elevate boxes off the ground and consider watertight enclosures. It’s easy to purchase rolling racks with adjustable shelves; these can be perfect for moving things around and keeping boxes up off wet surfaces. If your water heater, furnace, electrical panel or other important mechanical fixtures are located in the basement, consider having them elevated off the ground or moved (at least 12 inches above the expected flood line). Water can seriously damage these items and replacing them can be very expensive.

    Install a sump pump

    Sump pumps are ideal for homes that experience regular flooding, especially in the basement. It may not be able to handle a flash-flood situation, but can be perfect for smaller, seasonal floods. You’ll want to have your sump pump regularly inspected to ensure it functions properly. Many homeowners that install a sump pump also install a backup generator so that the pump continues to operate even when power is cut off to the home.

    Food and water for 2-4 days

    The American Red Cross suggests having at least a 3-day supply of food and water on hand for emergencies. Remember that if your area has experienced a flood, you may have difficulty getting to your local stores and pharmacies and even if you can reach them, supplies may be very limited. It is recommended to have at least 1 gallon of water per day per person during an emergency. Keep these supplies in an area of your home that would be accessible in the event of a flood.

    Have an emergency bag packed

    An emergency bag or box should be filled with first aid supplies, extra medicine (a 7-day supply), food and water, flashlight and batteries, toilet paper, a multipurpose tool, a blanket and any other supplies you may need to cope with a flood. You’ll also want your tools for communicating like a portable radio and a cell phone charger. Some people keep cash in their emergency kits; ATMs may not be functioning during a natural disaster and you may need cash for hotels or transportation. If your region has flood warnings or institutes a flood evacuation, you don’t have time to pack a bag. The idea of this emergency kit is that it should be already packed, easy to carry or transport (in case you need to evacuate) and should be able to tide you over until you reach a more stable area.  There are many online sites that sell ready-to-go bags and emergency kits. Here is a link to the FEMA recommended list of emergency supplies.

    Plan your evacuation with your family ahead of time

    Your family should put together a plan of action in case of an emergency. This could include how everyone should get a hold of each other, meeting points, and evacuation routes. Many city websites have specific pages designed to help families understand their local natural disaster plans. It’s important to read through this information prior to a natural disaster, as your access to the internet may be immediately cut off. As we saw from past events like Hurricane Katrina, flooding can happen quickly and can create an overwhelming feeling of chaos. Some families designate an out-of-state person as the central point of contact during an emergency, as their lines of communication may still be functioning. Having a plan on hand is the best way to feel in control when disaster strikes, particularly if you and your family have to act quickly. Some neighborhood organizations create emergency plans for their specific area. If you have neighbors that live alone or may need extra help during an emergency, it’s a good idea to ask them if they’d like to be included in your family’s plan. Remember to have a plan for your pets as well.

    Categories

    Archived Posts