Preparing Your House for Spring
This winter has been pretty brutal for many of us and while we may not be out of the woods yet, Spring and warmer temperatures are in sight. Even for those of us that’s keep our houses in tip top shape, a particularly cold winter can wreak havoc on the best of home maintenance plans. Following are some the easiest and most effective ways to prepare your home for Spring showers and the warmth we are all looking forward to.
First, start with a thorough inspection of the roof. Even if it is relatively new, the weight of snow, expansion and contraction due to temperature variances and wind driven rain can expose the smallest of defects. A thorough inspection of the roof can find problems that, if left unresolved, could potentially turn into significant water intrusion issues later on. Making repairs before the problem gets too big cant extend the life of the roof and save you money in the long-term.
Now is also the time to check vents, gutters and openings around the house. Dryer vents should be clean to avoid the potential of a dryer lint fire, gutters should be free of debris to ensure that rainwater is routed to appropriate areas and any openings at or near ground level should be checked for holes in the protective wire to ensure that pests cannot get in or under the house.
Spring cleaning is not just for the kitchens bathrooms and closets. After a long winter indoors, air quality can really suffer and a cleaning of carpets drapes and upholstery can offer a breath of fresh air to welcome Spring. Not only Will a good fabric cleaning make your house feel fresher, but it may also extend the life of your carpets and upholstery making it look newer for longer.
Now is as good a time as any to double check your fire prevention plan. Make sure you have fire extinguishers in the proper places around house and fresh batteries in the smoke detectors. Replace any old or damaged equipment and double check the expiration dates. Unfortunately, there are times were even the most vigilant of us cannot prevent a home fire, so best to be prepared.
One final tip that many homeowners overlook is the health of their windows. They may be cleaned and crystal clear, but are they letting water into the house? Caulking around windows does not come with a lifetime warranty and, depending on the weather, can degrade rather quickly. If you notice holes or cracks in the caulking around your windows, contact a home improvement professional like SERVPRO of Bellmore/Wantagh. You won’t want to run over the old caulk with a new bead – rather, removing the caulk entirely and re-caulking the window is always the best option.
Small maintenance items handled now can often prevent much bigger problems from occurring in the future. Of course, the professionals at SERVPRO of Bellmore/Wantagh are here to help with any of your maintenance needs. Let’s help you get your house in top shape today!
The Lowdown on Home Insulation
Have you ever suffered through a particularly cold winter or hot summer wondering why in the world your house is so much colder/hotter than your friend or family member’s brand-new house? Chances are it has to do with insulation. Insulation comes in many shapes, sizes and materials and can be applied to many different locations. Some insulation options are cheap while other solutions are quite expensive – there’s a lot to consider.
Most of us with older homes do not even think about insulation unless we are embarking on an extensive remodel or if you’re building a new home. However, insulation can be very beneficial even in an existing home. Let’s explore some of the common insulation upgrades existing home owners can embark upon to make their lives more comfortable and even save money over the long-term.
Attic insulation is one of the easiest and most cost-effective upgrades to your home. Chances are that over time, the original installation your home has degraded to the point where it does not offer enough protection from the elements. New insulation products are thinner and more efficient than ever before, and they are even spray on products that can be applied with almost perfect coverage. Not only does replacement of insulation improve comfort in the home, but it is a perfect time to look for defects in the roof or attic often caused by weather extremes for animal intrusion.
Installation can also come in the form of windows. Newer windows often offer much better insulation then windows from just a couple decades ago. If you live in a hurricane prone area such as Long Island, hurricane wind resistant windows not only offer protection from projectiles (and even burglars) but can also make the home more comfortable during temperature extremes. If you’re not ready to replace your windows quite yet, take a look around your windows and doors to make sure there is weatherstripping. Having new and well-fitting weatherstripping around the house can eliminate costly drafts.
Basement wall and floor installation can also eliminate a big source of energy loss. Not only will it make your basement more comfortable to hang out in – especially during cold weather– But it will also help the rest of the house dampen temperature extremes.
Lastly, but not least is checking your air ducts, if you have central air and heating. Over time, these ducts can develop holes and tears that allow cool or hot air to escape, reducing the efficiency of your home’s central air system. Improving insulation of these same ducts can further improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling unit. While some ducts will be hard to access, others can be easily repaired or replaced by a qualified professional.
A note on wall insulation. While older houses typically have subpar wall insulation, which allows a great deal of hot or cold air to be lost, it is not often practical to replace it.
Whether you’re looking for a small for significant installation upgrade, improved insulation offers one of the clearest and most immediate benefits to your comfort and even wallet - in the form of lower heating and cooling costs. Insulation improvements and replacement are also on the cheaper end of the home-improvement cost spectrum. Feel free to call us and learn more about how insulation and other improvements and repairs to your home can protect you from intrusion from the elements.
The Art and Science of Grout Cleaning
Every tile job, even those with the most precise and small grout lines, can be ruined by stained and dirty grout. Going online or to the DIY store yields a multitude of tips and tricks, some of which may work and others that are simply useless. Today, we discuss the different types of grout and what can be done to keep it clean.
Unlike many tiles, grout can be porous and over time begins to absorb both the liquid and dirt that falls to the floor through regular home use. Light grouts can turn dark very quickly and require the most care. Similarly, larger grout lines make dirt retention much more obvious. Lastly, rough grout is more susceptible to trapped dirt then smoother grout options.
If your grout is currently in good shape or if your tile has recently been installed, it may make sense to seal your grout. Sealing grout lines retains the new look while repelling liquid and dirt. However, you should be aware of a few important considerations.
- First, sealing the grout may change its color, rendering it darker. Some grout sealant is specially formulated to avoid this issue.
- Second, sealing the grout does not mean that it will be perfectly protected. Some liquid and dirt may still be able to penetrate the sealant.
- Lastly, the sealant must be reapplied on a regular basis, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, otherwise it can’t begin to break down.
There will be times where professional help is needed to bring grout back to a better condition. SERVPRO of Bellmore/Wantagh has the experience, tools and equipment to clean grout in a way that consumer products often cannot.
- Steam cleaning may be appropriate for most low-traffic applications that are not extremely dirty. Using a combination of the heat and clean water, our commercial grade equipment can effectively extract hard-to-remove stains. This method can also be effective in cleaning the tile in the room.
- For deeper, less manageable stains, sanding the grout lines and applying new grout on top may be an option. This requires far more labor and, ultimately, cost, however it can improve the aesthetics of the grout tremendously.
- Lastly, if there is no saving the grout, a complete grout removal and replacement may be the only option. This is a good time to consider replacing the tile as well, especially if it is very old and the homeowner has been considering a remodel.
Here at SERVPRO of Bellmore / Wantagh, we are proud to offer cost-effective options for floor and grout cleaning. Homeowners that stay on top of the maintenance of their floor will almost invariably reap rewards in the form of a better-looking floor for a longer period of time. We are here to help.
Practical Tips for Keeping Your Carpet Like New
The North Bellmore Fire Department needed to freshen up the fire house and used SERVPRO of Bellmore / Wantagh to clean the carpets in their lounge and
Virtually every home has a carpeted area. Carpet offers a host of benefits, however of all the floor coverings available today, it is one of the most difficult to keep fresh and clean. However, with some diligence and effort, homeowners can maintain their carpets in “like-new” condition for a long time. Following are some practical tips to help homeowners make the most of their flooring investment:
- Choose a high-quality carpet. While a low price may seem tempting, A better quality of carpet may last longer. Speak to your flooring professional to understand the differences between carpet types and brands.
- Choose the carpet type that suits your home habits. For example, those with young children or pet may wish to avoid berber or loop carpets that can easily come undone.
- Consider a carpet with built-in stain protection. These carpets have a special coating that acts to repel spills and dirt for an easier cleanup. While the stain protection is not perfect, it can certainly help.
- Clean stains as soon as possible. The best way to clean the stain is to blot with a carpet-specific cleaning solution. Do not rub this stain as it may make a bad situation worse. No matter what carpet cleaning solution you use, test a small spot in an inconspicuous area to be sure that it does not adversely affect the appearance of the carpet. There are also many organic and natural options carpet cleaning.
- Vacuum often. Depending on how heavily the carpet is used, you may wish to vacuum twice a week or more. Removing deep seated dirt sooner rather than later helps prevent the breakdown of carpet fibers as well as slowing the buildup of unseen dirt within the pile.
What About Professional Help?
A deep cleaning once every 9-12 months is it appropriate for regular carpet use. Hiring a professional like those at SERVPRO of Bellmore / Wantagh can keep your carpet smelling and looking great.
In the interim, homeowners with lots of activity may want to invest in a consumer-level deep cleaning system. These wet-vac systems range from low to moderate in price and can be very helpful when a smaller spill needs to be cleaned up right away. Of course, these systems often lack the cleaning power of a commercial system, so they are rarely appropriate for whole-house cleaning. For maintenance and larger spill, give us a call.
And of course, prevention Is always easier than a cleanup. Small, common sense moves, like removing shoes at the door can make a huge difference in the life of your carpet.
When Dusting Doesn’t Cut It
Dust is a part of everyone’s home life. It simply cannot be avoided no matter how hard we try. And while we work hard to eliminate it by dusting frequently, we may still find ourselves and our loved ones sneezing and reacting to allergens in the air.
One of the most common culprits is an often unrecognized and underappreciated system – our HVAC. Our central heating and cooling units rarely receive the attention and maintenance they need – it is often assumed that the HVAC unit is a sealed and contained such that it only spits out clean, filtered air. This is not always the case:
- Depending on the quality of the filter being used, small particles can still pass. The HVAC filter simply cannot filter out particles of that size. Of course, when choosing a filter with lower tolerances (higher filtration), it is important to remember that it will add strain to the system as less air is able to pass.
- Small dust particles as well as moisture can begin to collect in the air ducts and on the vents. While dust on the vents can easily be identified and cleaned by removing the vent, dust within the ducts requires a lot more work.
- Mold spores that pass through the HVAC system may become trapped in the ducting. Like the above, the accumulation of mold in the ducting can cause spores to dislodge regularly and cause the homeowner respiratory discomfort.
Regular service on your A/C unit can help it run at peak performance and an evaluation of your air ducts can improve the quality of the air you breathe.
Here at SERVPRO of Bellmore / Wantagh, we can evaluate your HVAC system including ductwork and offer a plan to keep it in top shape. While your ducts may or may not need a thorough cleaning now, they will sometime in the future. When it comes time to call a professional duct cleaning service, we look forward to being there for you.
While We’re There
On a related note, homeowners often overlook the cleaning of another important air duct – that of their clothes dryer. Lint builds up in the exhaust system since the lint trapper in the unit is not 100% efficient. Flexible dryer hoses only exacerbate the problem with their lint-trapping ridges. Cleaning the ductwork can be difficult depending on location of the duct and the venting. Further, excessive lint build-up can eventually cause a house fire.
If you notice that your clothes are taking longer to dry, or are not drying at all, give us a call to inspect and clean your dryer ducts for your safety and convenience.
Preparing Your Business for A Disaster
You may just be starting out with your own business or have an established well-oiled machine. Either way, you work hard planning for the future. One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of running a business, is disaster preparedness. After all, most businesses will never experience a serious disaster, so why worry?
Planning is Not Hard
Luckily for business owners across Long Island, planning for the possibilities of a disaster is not as hard and time consuming as it seems. Here are a few tips to help ensure the continuity of your business, even in the event of a disaster:
- Develop a comprehensive preparedness plan that covers, fire, flood, natural disasters, criminal behavior and terrorism. Templates for these plans can be found in various places around the Internet including ready.gov, a service provided by the US Department of Homeland Security.
- Test your program to make sure that employees and contractors know what to do in case of an emergency. Proper testing can identify gaps in your plan and makes for a calmer and more organized response during a real disaster.
- Backups – At the very least keep crucial documents backed up offsite or in a secure location. Ideally, documents and other paperwork is scanned and backed up securely on the Internet.
- Train employees in critical skills such as how to handle an active shooter or CPR. These are training programs that save lives.
- While you may have business insurance, does it cover all disasters? Some policies have exclusions that can mean denied coverage.
- Have a list of known contractors and disaster preparedness companies such as SERVPRO of Bellmore/Wantagh that can respond quickly to your business needs.
Are You Ready?
You can learn more about being ready by visiting our very own SERVPRO website here: https://ready.SERVPRO.com - see if you are truly prepared for an emergency.
The bottom line: It’s never too late to implement important contingencies to help ensure the continuity of your business. Not only does an emergency plan help you get back on your feet after a significant event, but it can also save time, money and most importantly, lives. Be prepared!
Practical Tips to Avoiding a Flooded Home
Flooding always seems to happen when you least expect it. And oftentimes, it’s while you’re away, making a bad situation so much worse. Fortunately, there are some often overlooked practical tips to help prevent flooding, or to detect and correct it quickly if it does.
First, many of the water delivery systems in your house, such as your faucets and toilets, have individual valves. These valves are typically used to service the system or cut off water flow in an emergency or when you plan to be away for an extended period of time. Over time, these valves can deteriorate, themselves causing a flood. The corrosion can also cause the valve to not shut off, making it that much harder to control the water flow. If you see that your valves are beginning to corrode, or when testing your valves see they do not completely shut off water flow, a plumber or a knowledgeable DIYer can easily replace the valves with little effort.
Shower valves can also be a source of in-wall leakage that may not be readily detectable. Shower valves degrade over time and use, and since these are hidden within the wall, it is hard to inspect them. Speak to your plumber about the shower valve and consider replacing it when remodeling the bathroom, shower or tub.
Many large appliances such as our washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators also get old and may show their age with a water leak. Tubing can leak, and depending on the pitch of the floor beneath the appliance, water may pool in corners of the room that are out of sight. Inspecting your appliances on a regular basis, or as recommended by the manufacturer, can help predict and avoid serious water issues.
You will also want to make sure that the main water shut-off valve (usually found outside of the house) is working properly as well. This valve system should be identified and tested as appropriate, and the valve should be replaced if it does not fully cut off water to the home.
Water heaters are a major source of water leakage. As they age, they tend to corrode and rust from the inside out. This, combined with potential build-up of pressure, can cause the water heater to leak or rupture once it reaches the end of its life. Water heaters should be serviced by a qualified technician on intervals suggested by the appliance manufacturer. If your current water heater is worse for wear, a new water heater is not only more reliable, but will likely heat water much more efficiently, giving you more hot water for less money.
There are various gadgets available in home improvement stores, some which can be connected to some security systems, that can detect water pooling on the floor and notify you via an audible alarm, an app or phone call. These devices can be strategically placed throughout the house, based on where they are most effective.
Once again, prevention is key in avoiding a water leak. But should you find yourself in this situation, SERVPRO of Bellmore / Wantagh is here to help.
Fire Safety Is A Year-Round Concern
When it comes to keeping your family safe, fire prevention is at the top of the list. And while there have never been as many resources as there are today, many families are still unprepared for the possibility of a home fire. Fires kill an average of over 2,500 people every year according to the NFPA and destroy countless homes. Most fires are preventable.
The first key to fire safety is proper preparation. Having a plan and making sure each family member knows it well is key to safety. You can start with the resources found here: http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/resources/safety-tip-sheets.
Purchase fire extinguishers and place them strategically throughout the home. Fire extinguisher instruction sheets typically have a map showing where fire extinguishers should be placed to maximize safety.
Purchase or replace smoke detectors. Smoke detectors are the primary alerting system for fires in the home. There are different types of smoke alarm sensors and some confusion over which is better. Ideally, have a dual sensor smoke alarm in each suggested location, or one of each sensor at that location. If the smoke detector has a heat sensor and/or carbon monoxide detector built in, even better. Refer to the smoke alarm instruction manual for proper placement and locations throughout the home. Your smoke alarm system may also be hardwired with an intercommunication line. Many recently built homes will be wired in this manner. This means that if one smoke alarm triggers, every smoke alarm in the house will trigger with it, alerting everyone in the home and not just where the smoke or fire originates.
Many security systems now offer the ability to add a monitored smoke alarm for a small added fee. The peace of mind knowing that someone is monitoring your home whether you are there or away may be worth the small extra charge.
It is also important to remember that it is often the thick, toxic smoke created by a fire that ultimately overwhelms and disables occupants of the house. Be mindful of this when choosing fabrics and floor coverings, as you may have the option of picking items that are either fire resistant or less toxic. Check for fire ratings when furnishing your home.
Of course, if a devastating fire were to occur, once you have secured your family members, SERVPRO of Bellmore / Wantagh is here to help with the cleanup. From fire to smoke damage and more, our advanced cleaning capabilities can help you bring your home back to its original condition.
How Your Roof Can Lead to Costly Home Repairs
The roofs above our heads represent a physical barrier from the elements as well as an important psychological comfort. Yet, even though a roof represents one of the largest investments in our home, most homeowners do not maintain it as diligently as they would their car. This all-too-common problem, can lead to significant damage inside the home.
Roof maintenance needs to be on the annual to-do list for every homeowner and especially for those of us that live in climate with four seasons. During a harsh winter, our roof is exposed to the cold causing its components to contract. Hot summers have the opposite effect making the roof components expand and placing additional strain on its integrity. Dry and alternately rainy spells can all accelerate the degradation of the roof.
When a roof fails there can be very obvious leaks from the ceiling. Far more insidious is the leak that is not readily apparent, usually as a result of a defect in a seam. Water may drip into the space between the walls and collect under tile, carpet or wood. By the time the defect is found, it may have already caused extensive damage that went largely unseen. Not only can this water intrusion cause physical damage to the home, but it can also create a mold contamination problem that can cause significant ill effects to occupants.
Some practical tips on maintaining your roof include
- Get an annual inspection from a licensed, experienced roofer
- Ensure that all seams, especially those around chimneys and where a flat roof meets the pitched roof or a wall, are watertight
- Ensure that any structures attached to the roof including trellises, gutters and more are not rotting and are appropriately fastened
- Ensure that there is sufficient airflow into and out of the attic
- Ensure that any roof cleaning is performed by a professional with extensive experience. For example, using chlorine bleach to clean a roof can cause the degradation of the nails or screws used to fasten the roofing material to the deck as well as degradation of the roofing material itself
- Of course, do not wait to repair or replace the roof when needed
In the end, a minimal investment in ensuring that your roof is well maintained can go a long way toward helping avoid a disaster in the future.
Leave Us a Review!
All of us here at SERVPRO of Bellmore / Wantagh want to thank you for inviting us into your home and trusting us with its repair. Your satisfaction is of utmost importance to us and we hope that your experience with us was nothing less than excellent.
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If you have any questions or concerns, or our work did not meet your expectations, we want to hear from you. Please call Raymond Norowski, Owner of SERVPRO of Bellmore / Wantagh at (516) 809-9600. We are always here to help.