Categories of Mold Contamination. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
When things get damp, humid, musty, smelly… there could be trouble brewing, even if you can’t see the source of the issue.
When your nose senses suspicious odors, especially in areas such as dark, enclosed basements, as one example, thoughts often go to, “Do I have mold?”
It’s a concern everyone should have, because specific types of mold, depending on an individual’s sensitives, can be hazardous to health.
While this topic and potential issues aren’t meant to alarm you, being informed is important and a protection to yourself and to your family. And one way to be informed is to know the various types of mold, at least a few of the common ones found in homes.
This type of mold is common as well, and normally shows up in damp areas, such as a shower, sink, under cabinets, and dark areas that may be humid. This type of mold usually, to those sensitive to it, causes asthma attacks and other allergic reactions.
One common mold found indoors is aspergillus. It isn’t considered a substantial health threat, but it can cause issues with those who are sensitive to molds. Some severe reactions can include inflammation of the lungs, infection of the respiratory system, and other symptomatic reactions to exposure to this mold spore.
This mold grows best on wooden surfaces, such as natural wood furnishings, and also in paint and wallpaper, to name a few. It often exhibits a black/pink color. Over time, this mold can cause severe allergic reactions to sensitive individuals.
The last mold we will cover here is often caused by some type of water damage situation. It can usually be found in drywall, especially when wet from water damage or other moisture intrusion. You usually identify this type of mold by its musty or “old” odor in the home.
Often found in soil, cellulose and plant debris, in both cool and warm areas, on various surfaces such as carpet, wood floors, and fabrics. Exposure can cause breathing challenges and respiratory issues.
These are just a few types of mold common to homes. Do your research and you will find a very long list of potential mold threats; some of them sound extremely risky to be around.
Remember, if you have any questions about water damage, mold contamination, mold spores, musty odors, and potential health threats to your family and home, call your disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Cleaning the Air Conditioner. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
It’s summertime. And if it isn’t that hot yet, it will be really soon. If hot weather isn’t in the forecast right now, give it time… it will warm up.
When hot weather strikes, most people work hard to be comfortable, and that means turning down the air in the home, using their trusty air conditioning system. For some, that means 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For others, 70. Others… like it even colder. It’s all about personal preference.
But when your air conditioner doesn’t perform adequately, or even worse, stops completely, panic strikes as the heat and humidity increases.
How can you avoid a sluggish or broken air conditioner? A few preventative maintenance steps can help tremendously.
Keep it simple — and clean!
Any part of your air conditioning unit, whether it is a portable window variety, mini-split, or central air, it’s important to keep all working parts, filters, everything clean of dust and debris.
All this means is a regular inspection, perhaps twice a month, and taking steps to clean dirty areas. If your air conditioner is portable and has a water collection tank, empty it regularly.
What comes in handy for removing dust and debris, especially from filters you can’t remove and aren’t washable, is a can of compressed air, such as you might use for your computer. But remember that when you blow dust off one surface, it will land on another.
And, if you aren’t sure about filter location or any aspect of your AC unit, ask a professional and take notes so you can refer to them in the future.
Call the pros
As with any electronic and complex piece of equipment, there are limits to what you can do yourself. Consider calling a professional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning company come in annually and perform an inspection. These are usually very inexpensive and, if you ever need repair service, they will respond faster if you are a regular customer (usually).
Once in a while, an air conditioning unit malfunctions or spills over, making a big mess. If that ever happens, it’s time to call your favorite cleaning company to take care of the issue. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Categories of Water Damage. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Even the smallest amount of water that intrudes into your home can quickly gravitate from a nuisance to a significant issue. And a water intrusion that involves hundreds or thousands of gallons of water may mean you become homeless for a short time, while the repair is performed
Did you know that water losses are given classifications? One water loss isn’t always like the next. There are differences.
Many water damage situations involve a basement, and often a sump pump failure. Others are from leaky pipes or even broken pipes. When this occurs, along with other types of water loss situations, did you know the water type is classified by professional water damage restoration experts as “clean?” That’s right. Even if it looks dirty, because of a lower amount of potentially hazardous contaminants in the water, it is given a “Category 1” classification. However, this type of water loss can quickly escalate into a more dangerous situation, if not removed and affected materials dried out quickly.
Then we have water damage situations that may contain potentially hazardous contaminants and bacteria that could be harmful to your health. An example would be a toilet that overflows, that doesn’t involve raw sewage. This would be a “Category 2” classification. A Category 1 can become a Category 2 if left unattended, because of bacteria and microbial growth occurring over time.
And it gets worse from here. A “Category 3” water damage situation is “black” water and is always considered dangerous to the health of occupants in a home or building. An example would be a raw sewage backup and contamination. Another would be flood waters, since you aren’t sure of the source of the water or where it has been. The contamination involved would dictate wearing personal protective equipment and even respirators. Never risk your health.
For Category 1 and Category 2, there is a chance you could extract and dry the area yourself. Often, it ends up in frustration and even mold growth. But for Category 3, never attempt this on your own. In fact, play it safe. Always call a professional water damage company when you have any type of flooding situation in your home. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Caring for the Commode. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
It’s no fun. It’s un-delightful. But someone must do it.
Cleaning the commode — aka “the toilet” — is a task that must be done on a regular basis, because if you don’t do it… well, you know.
Over time, grime can build up but also very-difficult-to-remove hard water, lime, and calcium deposits. Rust stains can also accumulate.
And there is no “one way” to take care of each situation. Frequency of usage, the quality of your water, and other factors can dictate more frequent or less frequent cleaning.
The first rule of thumb is clean based on appearance. Don’t wait until you notice the commode needs cleaned. Schedule it and clean it even when it doesn’t look like it needs it. This may be weekly or bi-weekly. But put it on your calendar to-do list.
The first item you need is a good quality toilet cleaning brush. If your water quality is considered “hard”, purchase one that can provide some mild abrasion, such as a wire brush. This will help with the difficult task of removing mineral deposits. But don’t overdo it; you can scratch the surface of the commode, inside the bowl.
Now you need a quality cleaning product. This is where you really need to consider your best options.
A commercial-grade cleaning product is obviously the best choice, as it will handle most residential cleaning challenges with ease. There are no doubt some supply houses in your area that have these types of products, and most big-box stores also carry similar brands. If you neglect cleaning for a period of time, you will need one of these stronger products, usually a potent acid-based cleaner. If you keep your commode clean on a schedule, a milder household product should suffice.
Choose a cleaning product that has a spout you can use inside the bowl, applying the product up high under the rim of the bowl. Grime and mineral deposits like to hide there. Apply your cleaning solution thoroughly, using your brush to agitate the surface inside the toilet, and allow a few minutes of contact time for the product to work. Then agitate again and flush. Inspect, re-clean if needed… and you should be happy with the results.
As always, using cleaning products is partnered authomatically with a few warnings. Don’t allow it to contact your skin, so use gloves. And don’t forget the eye protection glasses or goggles. Safety first!
Never forget, however, that the absolute best cleaning of your home, whether in the bathroom or the living room, from hard floors to carpet, and more, let your favorite cleaning company do the work. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Seasonal Mold Removal. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
There are many types of mold, and you never want to put yourself or your family at risk when you see some in your house. When it is in your home, it’s time to call a mold professional. Fast!
But outside the house? That’s a different matter altogether.
One fact people don’t always appreciate is mold is everywhere. It’s a product of nature, and found inside and outside. When you find it inside, the mold spores can become concentrated, and depending on the severity of allergic reactions, can even be dangerous. That’s why mold contamination in a structure must be remediated by a mold professional.
Mold that is outside your home is especially noticeable when it is on your home, such as the wood, vinyl or brick siding, or horizontal areas such as decking. When that happens, don’t panic… this mold is where it should be and isn’t much of a danger, unless you or those in your household are prone to allergen exposure associated with mold spores.
If you don’t have allergen issues, then a regular cleaning of the exterior of your home should be a simple task. You have several options you can utilize to accomplish this.
Clean and scrub
The oldest, tried-and-true method of cleaning the exterior of your home from soil, debris, and mold, involves a bucket, brush, sudsing detergent, ladders, and hoses. Using a pump-up sprayer to wet down the exterior means you can get better contact and soak time, and your scrubbing and “elbow grease” efforts are minimized.
Choose a small section at a time. If your cleaning solution dries out, you must re-apply solution and start over. Wash the section, rinse it thoroughly, and allow to dry and then inspect. It may take a couple of cleanings to get the results you want. Any moldy soils that you wash away, make sure you don’t get them on your clothing and bring them inside.
This is the most effective, time-saving method of cleaning the exterior of your home and removing mold growth.
You can purchase power washing equipment inexpensively, and you can spend hundreds of dollars as well. The inexpensive version will be electric, and the expensive version powered by gasoline. Either way works well; gas powered versions will be more powerful and faster to use.
As with any surface, apply your detergent and allow it to soak. Then power wash the exterior, washing off soil and mold away from you. Always be safe. Any contact you have with mold, be sure to wash off completely and don’t track it into your home.
Use a pro
Your favorite cleaning and restoration company knows how to tackle this type of chore best. Do the smart thing and save some time and even some money. And headaches as well. Call them up. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Clean Car Catharsis. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
There are so many things to clean up after a long, messy winter, and bringing your vehicle back to life is probably at the top of the list.
Running it through a car wash occasionally helps keep the grime from building up on the exterior of your vehicle, but you want to give some attention to the entire car, inside and out. A clean car makes you feel really good. Until you encounter the next mud puddle, of course.
So as you stand there looking at your really dirty car, the question that might be on your mind is, “Where do I start?”
It makes sense to washing the exterior completely, using a sudsing detergent and water. Mix up your solution in a bucket, using warm or hot water if possible, and apply the sudsy mix to the exterior and allow it a few minutes to soak. Then scrub with a soft sponge or cloth, and rinse. If your water is hard, you will need to hand dry after washing.
The toughest part of cleaning the exterior of often the front of the vehicle, such as the bumper. Bugs, road tar, and other debris can build up and be really challenging to remove. Use your cloth vigorously, along with some dry solvent solution for the tar, but be very careful not to rub too hard or use too strong a solvent as that can damage paint. When the car is clean, consider a wax treatment, following manufacturer directions.
The tires will need some special attention. A dishwashing sponge with a handle is a good tool to use to get in the tight areas in wheel hubcaps and other sections of the tire. Following cleaning, you can use a tire shine product to really make your car look sharp.
This is where cleaning gets rough. All those details in the car need cleaned. That’s why they call it “automobile detailing” after all.
Start off with a thorough vacuuming of everything. The seats, carpet, nooks and crannies, under seats, between seats. You get the picture. A lot of stuff will be in there, and a vacuum with a crevice tool is the best way to reach debris.
Lay out your car mats and vacuuming them with an upright vacuum, as that will break free and remove more dust.
Mix up a sudsing detergent solution in a bucket, and using soft cloths, begin to clean all hard surfaces. You will need dry cloths as well, as you work through the vehicle. Some cotton swabs will work for reaching in smaller areas, such as air vents.
After all that is done, it’s time to do the windows. Use lint-free cloths and window cleaner, and inspect with a flashlight to see if there are any streaks remaining.
There’s more you can do, obviously, such as shampooing the fabric and cleaning any leather you may have. But these basic steps will get you started on your pathway to clean car catharsis.
And remember, your favorite cleaning company knows all about how to clean any surface, including your car. Call them today. After all, if pays to call a pro!
Sump Pump Misery. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Your home may be nice and warm — and dry — but if you have a basement and a sump pump, anything can happen if there is a failure of your trusty remover of ground water.
Sump pumps work to keep basements dry in certain geographic locations, and we trust our own pump will continue as a reliable sentinel of protection. Yet, as is the case with any mechanical device, failure will eventually happen.
How long should your sump pump work? It depends on several factors, including how hard it works and the mineral content of the groundwater it is pumping out. Anything can happen. The experts say that a sump pump should last an average of 10 years, so do the math.
How old is your sump pump? It might be a good idea to consult a plumber (or do it yourself) and replace it before it fails.
How they work
Sump pumps work on demand. When the ground is dry, they obviously don’t do anything. But when it begins to rain, or groundwater begins to rise naturally, the float switch rises and the pump starts up, removing water to the outside, usually to a storm drain. When the water level lowers, the float switch follows and turns off the pump.
Sometimes, the float switch can become stuck in the “up” position, which means the pump will run continuously. Most people can hear their pump and if you notice it is running continuously, go look and check the float. If the float is down, and the pump is running, it is time to consider replacement.
Over time you will get to know the normal sound of your pump and anything out of the ordinary will get your attention. Don’t ignore an abnormal sound. A flooded basement is no fun.
The cost of a sump pump can be as low as $50 to several hundred dollars, depending on the model you choose. Larger capacity pumps cost more, obviously.
Installing a sump pump can be straightforward, simple. When you purchase a new pump, such as at your favorite hardware store, ask for instructions. Some of them come with the pump, but the experts who sell you the pump also know what to do.
You can also call a plumber. That shouldn’t be too expensive as a professional will make quick work of the task. And you have the peace of mind that the pump is installed correctly and working as it is designed.
Of course, if your pump ever fails you and your basement floods, you need professional help to clean up the mess. Call your favorite water damage restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How to Remove Hard Water Stains. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Spots and stains, no matter where they land, are unsightly and ugly, and you work hard to remove them.
A spot is easy to remove, as it is a deposit of substance that sits on top of a surface. Examples include chocolate, milk, or ketchup. A stain is a different challenge altogether, as it means the substance has penetrated or is strongly attached to a surface. Examples include mustard, curry, or Kool-Aid.
Hard water stains are common occurrences, yet often challenging to remove. And if you don’t get to them quickly, they can become even tougher to tackle.
What are they?
Hard water stains, often called lime deposits, are basically limestone, calcium and magnesium, among other mineral substances. They all come from ground content. The more minerals in the ground, the harder the water.
Certain areas of the country have more mineral content than others, and without a water softening system in a home or business, the result is a buildup of hard water stains anywhere water stands and dries, such as around sinks, underneath water fountains, and on bathroom floors.
They can also be a problem in toilets and other receptacles that hold water. Mineral deposits can also affect appliances, such as coffee pots.
If you have ever washed dishes, your car, or other shiny surfaces, and the water is hard, you can easily see the issue. White “scales” of minerals are a problem.
How to remove them
Obviously, the best way is prevention. Wiping up water from surfaces before it dries keeps water stains at bay.
But when they do occur, you need to consider which type of cleaning product will react with the mineral stains.
The most common mineral stain cleaning product is white vinegar, which is acidic. Since mineral stains are alkaline, like rust, an acid-based cleaning product is required. White vinegar is safe, easy-to-use, and effective for most mineral deposit issues. Use it as you would any cleaning product. Apply, allow a minute or two of contact time, and wipe away.
But if the mineral deposit is heavy, and white vinegar doesn’t do the trick, then a formulated product from your department or hardware store is your next choice. These are stronger acid products and you must follow directions when using them. Applying them to certain surfaces can damage those surfaces so be sure to read the fine print.
Always wear protective gloves and glasses, as skin and eye contact with any cleaning product can be hazardous.
And, as you know, when you have cleaning questions or need professional cleaning services in your home, do the smart thing. Call your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!