Winter Prep Tips. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
It’s coming. For some, it may already be here.
The looming arrival of winter, for many in colder climates, means it is time to think of preparing the home for the invasion of frigid temperatures, gripping winds, icy rains, heavy snows, and all the other issues that come with the harshest season of the year.
Getting your home in shape so it can battle the winter elements does take some time, planning, and preparation, but the payoff is worth it. A number of issues — from frozen water pipes to ice dams in your gutters to water intrusion in the basement — can arise that can damage your home that often require either much of your valuable time and resources to repair, or the services of a disaster restoration company.
At minimum, handle these winter preparedness tasks.
Get a ladder and get to work, or hire a professional to handle it, but you must make sure your gutters are clean of all debris. Disconnect all your garden hoses, and if you can, turn off the water to those faucets.
Inspect any trees and remove branches that may get heavy with ice and fall onto your home.
Look at the caulking and trim around your windows and doors, and make them as air tight as possible.
Have your heating system inspected, and don’t forget the fireplace or insert, if you have them. The wrong time for a heating system to go bad is when it is needed. An honest, reputable HVAC company may be able to prevent the unthinkable — your house losing heat and freezing up, with all kinds of damage occurring as pipes freeze and break, among other issues.
If you have any other heat sources, such as portable heaters, kerosene heaters, etc, inspect them and especially the cords. They are cheaper to replace now than when everyone is running to the store to buy them.
As you did on the outside, inspect the interiors of your windows and doors, and repair them to keep out cold wind. On a windy day, do your inspection with a butane lighter, as any air activity will show up in a flickering flame.
If you have sump pump system, determine how old it is and check with the manufacturer on recommended replacement frequencies. A failure of a sump pump is a guaranteed way to come home to inches — or feet — of water in the basement.
If the unthinkable does happen, don’t panic. Call your favorite disaster restoration company right away. After all, it pays to call a pro.
Fixing Those Irritating Dents. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
When you think of a dent, you might reflect on that small golf-ball sized one on the fender of your car, or the front or side of an appliance that got squashed when moving it in.
But dents can happen to floors as well. You might be thinking of certain hard floors that can be damaged by falling objects. But it happens to carpet most often.
“What? How can a carpet get dented?” you ask.
Just move a heavy piece of furniture, and look where the legs were. That is a carpet dent, or indentation, and you might try to fluff up or pull up those carpet yarns that have lost their resiliency. They are stubborn, are squashed down into the backing of the carpet, even crushed into the carpet padding, and with fight off the most valiant efforts you put forth to resurrect them.
Dent removal tips
So you got ambitious last week, and moved your furniture around, and now you can see a few dents that just have to go.
One of your options is to simply wait. In time, most carpet dents (and the squashed padding underneath them) will work their way back up. But this could take months, even a year, depending on the carpet fibers, as some are more resilient and can bounce back faster.
One popular way to remove a carpet dent is to add moisture to the area, but slowly. Putting an ice cube in the dent can do the trick, but you have to help it along. Get a screwdriver, kitchen fork, or other sharp object and, as the ice melts and the fibers absorb some of the moisture, start working the carpet yarns back out and up and give them a gentle grooming. This should help remove most of the dent.
When the carpet is dry, put your vacuum cleaner to work, using just the suction hose. Vigorously work the hose cuff over the dent and use the vacuum’s force to finish the job.
Dent still there? Do the ice trick again; it might take a few attempts.
If you still have carpet dent challenges, and can’t live with the issue, don’t despair. A thorough steam cleaning by your favorite carpet cleaner should finish the job. Give them a call and explain the issue. Their specialized equipment partnered with their expertise and years of experience have the power you don’t. After all, it pays to call a pro!
The Imminent Arrival of Old Man Winter. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
It may just be the fall season right now, but that’s about to change soon, into… winter.
And getting ready for winter is important, with several aspects regarding your home and protecting what’s most valuable to you. Obviously, winter is outside, but it will want to get inside, and that can cause damage you don’t want.
If your home is typical, you have a lot of glass — windows, that is. Take a tour, inside and out, and look for areas where the weather stripping is damaged, where there are cracks in the caulking, and gaps where gaps should not be.
When the wind blows, do you hear it coming in the windows, or from around the windows? That’s not so bad right now, but when nasty weather strikes, that’s a different story.
Get your windows in shape now, before winter arrives.
You can see some of your roof from the ground, but if you get up and take a close look, you may see shingles that need replaced, areas around the chimney or vents that could use some plugging, or other general repairs that are much, much easier now than when it is zero degrees and icy.
But be safe. If you aren’t an expert and able to inspect, hire someone to do it for you!
Grit, debris, leaves, and obstacles tossed up there from a windy day can build up. When they do that, and winter strikes with cold, snowy bluster, a plugged up gutter can create really expensive restoration work, because if a gutter can’t drain, this might force melting ice into your home. Get a ladder, take a look. But just like with your roof, only do that if you are an expert. Hire it done if you aren’t.
No matter what you do, occasionally water, wind and ice can damage your home. Do the right thing: Call your disaster restoration pro. After all, it pays to call a pro!
A Clean Kitchen the Easy Way. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Here’s an easy quiz for you: What’s the most popular room in your home?
If you guessed “the bathroom” you wouldn’t be totally wrong, as it might be the most frequented room in the home.
But hands-down, the kitchen is the most welcoming, most enticing room in your home, because of what happens there. Delicious food preparation, nice conversations, a general gathering place for family and friends.
With that comes much usage and the need for cleaning. To make the unwanted task of cleaning a little easier, here are some simple maintenance tips that will save you time.
Above the floor
The sink, countertops, stove, cabinets and other areas above the floor get heavy use, and the residue can be sticky and challenging to remove.
The most aggressive cleaning is probably in the sink, where grime can build up that isn’t always that apparent. Use cleanser and a sponge or cloth, apply the product and clean multiple times, rinsing often. It should actually squeak when you run your fingers over it.
The other areas should be cleaned with an all-purpose, milder cleanser, misting it on and wiping it off with soft cloths. A final wiping with a cloth with warm water will remove any cleaning residues. You do this every day or so, and you will never notice a buildup of grime or dirt.
Sweep and mop on a schedule before it looks like it needs it. A dust mop might be OK, but a regular broom with soft bristles often picks up more debris. Hot water and a detergent for the type of flooring you have is recommended, but don’t overdo the concentration as it can leave streaks.
Odds and ends
Something often neglected are the drawers, especially those that hold small items like cooking utensils. Take a look at the drawer that holds your silverware, pull out some forks or spoons, and you will see bits of all kinds of food and debris hiding underneath. Every week, plan on cleaning just one drawer and they will all stay nice and neat.
But when you need a complete, thorough cleaning and don’t want to tackle it yourself, call your professional cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Your Very Own Flood. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Invasions happen. And as statistics show, it happens often.
No, we aren’t talking about invasions of the criminal kind. What we are talking about is an invasion of… water.
Your own personal flood. In your house.
These events can be devastating, in more ways than one. It’s not just an inconvenience. It’s also damaging to valuable materials, some that just can’t be replaced, and steals much of your time as you clean up after the mess.
When a flood occurs in your home, what’s your natural, spontaneous reaction? Call your insurance agent. That’s what most do. And that’s smart, as you don’t want to spend more time and money on this recovery project than necessary.
But you still have to do your homework. Trusting your insurance company is one thing. Knowing who to hire is another. Remember, it’s your home and your insurance policy. You have some significant input in who is hired to come into your home.
The first thing to consider is being safe. No matter how valuable something is, it’s not as valuable as the health and well-being of your family. Make sure everyone is safe and secure, that the power is turned off in areas affected, such as those with electrical components. But be careful! Just leaving your home and letting the pros go in and take care of everything, scoping out the job, is often recommended. It’s difficult to do because you want to start looking for valuables and protecting your property.
Next is, stand up for your rights. Insurance companies often attempt to limit their exposure and what they will pay. Your typical insurance policy means you have the right to have your home and belongings returned to “pre-loss” condition. Your professional water damage company is on your side. They want to do the work right and they do not want to cut corners.
When a flood happens, it can be an emotional event. Remember, though, if everyone is safe, the “stuff” that is ruined can be replaced.
Do the right thing when your home suffers from any type of water loss. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Tile and Grout Floor Care. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Tile floors are everywhere, and where there’s tile, there’s also grout to separate it all, keeping everything nice and even, with straight lines.
But a straight line may not always be so… clean. Dirt and grime and other contaminants build up over time and make what was once a beautiful floor look downright ugly. The grout is especially susceptible to soiling and staining.
Just as you would clean any surface, tile and grout floors need special attention. If you keep them clean, following a maintenance schedule, you won’t have to deal with the tough issue of restorative cleaning.
Here are a few simple tips for you to follow in order to keep your tile and grout floors in tip-top shape.
The first step is keep the floor swept. Sweep it daily, which will remove dust and debris and other contaminants that can eventually cause tough-to-remove soiling.
Tile floors are very easy to clean and maintain. Use a clean mop and an approved detergent to clean the floor. Some prefer the newer flat floor cleaners. Doesn’t matter the tool, it is how you use it and the products you choose.
Some recommend the use of chlorine bleach, which acts as a disinfectant. The challenge here is remaining residues can create issues, such as being tracked off onto carpet, causing color loss. Be careful with the use of any type of bleach.
The toughest part of a tile and grout floor cleaning job is… the grout. It’s porous, even if sealed, and becomes an eyesore quickly. Purchase a heavy-duty grout cleaner and follow the directions. You will most likely be on your hands and knees, and it takes time to do this right. Apply the product to the grout, allow some reasonable contact time, and scrub - scrub - scrub! Repeat as necessary. Work carefully until the grout looks great again.
When everything is cleaned up, be sure to rinse with a neutral detergent, or just water, and let air dry and inspect. You will find areas need more attention. When you do… get back to work!
Tile and grout cleaning is no easy task, especially when it becomes really soiled. When you find yourself up against an impossible task, do the smart thing. Call your professional cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How to Avoid a Moldy Basement. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
There are many types of mold that can be found in a home, whether the problem is caused by faulty construction, water damage, leaky plumbing, or other issues.
But what some people report is, despite no evident water damage or plumbing situations, no heavy rains, to name a few issues, they still get mold in their basements, often on the inside of their exterior block walls.
Nobody wants that. Mold can be dangerous to people who have exposure sensitivities to it.
What can you do to avoid a moldy basement problem? There are several simple steps and procedures…
Know your numbers
It’s important to understand humidity and monitor those moisture levels in your home. A simple hygrometer you can buy online or in a retail store gives you this information, as easy as a thermometer tells you the temperature.
Use a dehumidifier
Basements are known to be humid and damp, even with no evident moisture intrusion issues. A dehumidifier can remove many pints of water from the air each day. You can choose one that you have to dump the water from on a schedule, or have it drain automatically into a floor drain or sump pump. You will be amazed how much water you can remove and keep mold at bay with a dehumidifier.
Use exhaust fans
Simple fans can be installed that move moisture-laden air from the inside to the outside, like you would do with a bathroom exhaust fan. This might be a chore for the pros, so have them take a look at your home and see what options they might offer.
Inspect outside drainage
One issue that is common is moisture building up on the outside of block walls, and this moisture can seep into the interior walls of those blocks, adding too much humidity in the basement. Ensure all ground water flows away from your home and doesn’t puddle up against the walls.
This advice is for common issues. But if the worst happens, such as a broken pipe or water flooding into your home, now you are into a serious issue. Do the right thing and call your water damage restoration company today. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Cleaning Up ‘Accidents’. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Our pets. We love them. No matter what.
No matter if they hack up hairballs. No matter if they barf up their breakfast. No matter if they mistake the corner of the living room for the litter box or the grass patch outside.
Dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, birds… the list goes on as to the types of pets that people have in their homes and subsequently treat like family. Or even better than family.
With owning a pet comes responsibilities. Some obligatory, such as taking them to the vet for annual checkups. Others more of a necessity, such as cleaning up after they make a mess, from turning over the food dish to the previously mentioned hacking or barfing — or other issues that create a smelly, visible mess that must be dealt with.
Pet accidents. They happen to every pet owner. And are they really “accidents” — as if the pet didn’t really mean to do it? That’s another story entirely.
Here are a few basic steps to consider when cleaning up “accidents”.
Scrape or wipe it up — all of it
No matter the mess, whether tossed up tidbits from the food bowl to a hacked-up hairball to urine or feces in the carpet, the first order of business is to clean up excess residue. There’s no point to applying cleaning product or deodorizer to substance that you can remove with a few paper towels.
Blot and blot… and blot some more
Now is the time to get as much moisture (gross!) out of the carpet or off the flooring material, or even off furniture. Using white, absorbent paper or cloth towels, push down on the affected area. Do not scrub. The idea is to absorb as much contamination as you can.
Apply product — and clean!
The final step is to clean up all remaining residues from the surface. Always pretest colors and fabrics before adding cleaning products, although most surfaces are fairly durable and can handle mild cleaning agents. Get some ideas for the best products from your local carpet cleaning company. Control the amount applied with a flip-top bottle or adding the product to a white, absorbent paper or cloth towel. Work into the area and clean away the contamination. If you remove it when fresh, there should be no residual issues.
Sounds easy, right? It’s not always this easy. When you have difficult cleaning challenges, do the right thing. Call your professional cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!