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!
Power Cord Safety. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
We all need power. Especially of the electrical variety. Without it, nothing works. Your appliances that run on batteries might work for a little while, but without a charge, they die. Anything that is plugged into an outlet is worthless without that spark of energy we rely on virtually every minute of every day.
And… when your power goes out… you panic!
One aspect of power and electricity that is often ignored or forgotten is what carries it to various devices in your home. That’s right… the power cord plays an integral part of using electricity and should also be a concern when it comes to safety issues.
In addition to the installed power cord, extension cords are frequently used to increase the range or reach of electrical outlets. No matter which type of cord you are using and the length, consider these safety tips to protect your home and family.
Check for damage
Make sure your power cords don’t have any cracks or breaks and aren’t frayed in any way. Replace rather than repair.
A good fit
When you plug a cord into a wall outlet, it should be snug, not loose and falling out of the socket.
The third prong
It may be tempting, but some outlets, such as in older homes, may not have the third hole. It’s an important safety component of modern outlets, as it grounds the electrical current. Never remove the third prong from cords.
Match cords to usage
Choose cords that are of proper weight and length and can carry the electrical load appropriate for the device being powered. Ask your electrician for details, if needed.
Place them carefully
Make sure cords are placed where they won’t be a tripping hazard, and never put them under rugs or other furniture, especially heavy items, which can crimp and break the cords.
If the unthinkable occurs and you do experience a fire of any kind, and related smoke damage, do the right thing. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. It pays to call a pro!
Is Your Microwave… a Crud Collector? North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s super convenient. Without it, some of us couldn’t survive in the kitchen. No way.
Yes, the microwave oven is an indispensable appliance.
The microwave oven is a modern invention. The first microwaves were around in the mid 1940s, but were mainly for restaurants and reheating food on airplanes. They were massive devices that had to be cooled continuously by water flow. By the 1950s they were introduced to homeowners and some did indeed purchase them, but they were approximately $12,000 in today’s dollars. The popularity along with more affordability began in the 1980s and microwaves as a common fixture in the kitchen is now here.
Virtually everyone has one. If you don’t, you are in the minority. What all microwave users have in common is cleaning up the mess that inherently comes with using these handy ovens that can cook snacks or complete meals in seconds or minutes instead of hours.
To ensure your microwave oven not only looks good but also operates efficiently, you must keep it clean.
As with any cleaning task, scraping up as much as you can before applying cleaning agents is smart. Food particles and residue that resulted from an “explosion” of food can easily be scraped away from the walls and ceiling of the inside of the oven.
When you have scraped up as much as possible, use an appropriate cleaning solution and liberally spray the interior of the microwave. Give it some time for the solution to work, perhaps five minutes, and then wipe away the grime. But if there is a lot of grime, continue reading and do this…
Fill a microwave-safe bowl about two-thirds full of water. Put it inside the microwave and heat it up on high for about three to five minutes, or until it is boiling. Don’t open the door! Let the bowl sit in there for approximately 10 minutes, allowing the steam to loosen up the grime. Then…
Spray the moist interior of the oven with more cleaning solution, and use paper towels to wipe all interior surfaces. Even the toughest grime should come off after all your prep work.
Other dirty surfaces
Microwave ovens aren’t the only grimy things that can be part of the modern household. When you need any of your surfaces cleaned, such as carpet, furniture, hard floors and more, call your favorite cleaning company. It pays to call a pro!
Electricity Exposed! North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Electricity. It’s an amazing force of nature and used by virtually everyone in the world, in some form or other.
For most homeowners, and even those working in commercial buildings, the number of appliances that use electricity is mind-boggling. With that comes the issue of safety. After all, if you have a dozen (or more!) items all humming with power in your home, odds are that eventually there could be an issue with electrical safety.
Don’t let that happen to you. Give these practical, household appliance tips some consideration to keep your family and loved ones safe while enjoying the benefits of anything powered by electricity. Although electricity can become exposed, you don’t want that! Smoke, fire, and other damage can occur.
An “appliance” doesn’t have to be a stove or refrigerator. The term can refer to smaller items, such as space heaters. All appliances that use electricity generate some type of heat and can become unsafe if electrical connections become loose or damaged. That can happen with normal wear and tear and age of the appliance. Even gas appliances, such as an oven or stove, most likely use electricity to ignite the flame, or even keep track of the time of day.
The job of certain types of appliances is to generate heat, and a lot of it, which automatically elevates the safety concern in the home. These can be toasters, toaster ovens, regular ovens and stovetops, space heaters, clothes and hair curling irons, hair dryers and more. The list can be extensive. Make sure, when applicable, there is plenty of space from anything that generates heat and anything that can ignite. Many homes have suffered fire and smoke damage because someone set down a clothes iron on something ignitable or the toaster was too close to the side of the refrigerator and papers attached to it caught on fire.
We all know this, as well: When there is electricity and water, shock hazards can occur, along with possible fire ignition. Analyze each appliance and make sure they aren’t too close to any water source.
Next month, we’ll discuss another appliance safety feature that you might be wondering about… power cords!
And remember, if anything does happen in your home, whether it is a fire and smoke damage situation or flooded basement, do the best thing to bring conditions back to normal. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Hazardous Waste. North Star Clean of Wisconsin.
Where’s is that trash can?
You know where it is. It’s in the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage. Trash cans (or garbage bins) are everywhere because in our normal routine during the day we generate waste. A lot of waste.
Most items we toss into the trash can are supposed to go there. Normal debris, paper items, leftover foods, among others. You know what we mean. Items like that paper filter full of coffee grounds that you just tossed a few minutes ago.
However, there are some items that shouldn’t automatically go into the trash can. Things that can contribute to the global issue of “hazardous waste.” No, not the nuclear or radioactive type. The hazardous waste that we all generate and should dispose of properly.
Common items that fall into this category are found throughout your home… in basements, under kitchen sinks, in the garage, in closets, and other places. These items can include cleaning products, paints, varnishes, automotive fluids, pesticides, batteries… even electronic items such as old computers that haven’t worked for years. A quick internet search shows a huge list of potential items you might toss in the trash can but should give second thought to doing so.
Some leftover household products that can be considered hazardous waste contain corrosive, toxic, flammable or other reactive elements. You might have, in the past, just thrown them away, to get rid of them. That’s human nature. You figure the disposal company knows what to do. You are right. But they don’t know what’s in the bags you set out. This means you can help by being a smart consumer.
Before throwing away items that could be potentially hazardous, think about how you can determine the best way of disposal. One way is to review labels on items you are throwing away. They should indicate the type of danger they pose and might even have disposal instructions. If the item recommends you wear gloves or eye protection, that’s a clue it could be hazardous waste. Another option is to ask your waste disposal or recycling company for instructions or perhaps contact information for appropriate local government agencies that can provide you with detailed information not only on what is common hazardous waste, but also on local disposal options, including locations you can use to take hazardous waste materials.
One thing you can be sure of. Your favorite cleaning company uses only safe, effective cleaning products when in your home. After all, it pays to call a pro!