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28Feb 2013

The winter season has been a tough one in Cache Valley and we’ve spent most of our time indoors to escape the cold and the bad air quality. We all know that the inversion in Cache Valley creates unhealthy outdoor air, but what about the air in our own homes?  Most Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, where pollutant levels may be 2-5 times higher,  and occasionally 100 times higher, than outdoors, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Here are a few tips to reducing the pollution in the home.

KEEP CARPETS CLEAN

Carpets act as a large air filter and just like any filter, if it becomes clogged with dirt and dander, it will cease to function properly.  A couple of ways to keep your carpets clean are:

1) VACUUM REGULARLY.  A general rule is to vacuum traffic areas at least once per week with a powerful upright vacuum.  Using a vacuum with a beater brush and excellent filtration system will help prevent dirt from settling in your carpet and keep re-circulation of dust and dirt to a minimum.  Along with using the right kind of vacuum, it is imperative to use the right kind of bag and change it often, otherwise the vacuum will send out tons of dust in to the air.

2) PROFESSIONALLY CLEAN THE CARPETS ON A REGULAR BASIS.  Vacuuming is just not enough when it comes to cleaning carpets.  Carpet collects dust, dirt, dust mites, pollen and dander.  Plus anything else we track in from outside.  A good test to show vacuuming is just not enough is to take a rug that has just been vacuumed and shake it outside.  It will still release more dirt.  This is why professionally cleaning the carpets is recommended every 6-12 months.  Cleaning the carpets by hot water extraction will clean and suck out the pollutants in your carpet & rugs.

3) REMOVE SHOES WHEN ENTERING THE HOME.  Removing shoes and putting rugs/runners at doorways can prevent pollutants from outdoors from entering the home on your shoes.  This is a good practice to follow and will also help keep your carpets looking clean longer.

CHECK THE HOME FOR MOLD

If not treated, mold can cause a number of health problems to the respiratory system and cause other problems such as headaches and nausea.  Mold thrives off of air, moisture and food (carpet, wood, dry wall etc.), therefore it is important to not only check your home for mold spores, but any moisture problems such as leaky pipes or condensation build-up and correct those problems.  Water damaged areas should be cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours to prevent the growth of mold.

REGULARLY CHANGE THE FILTER IN FURNACES

Once again, if the filter is not changed regularly, it will not function properly.  This could lead to malfunctioning of the furnace and possibly dust being sent through the air ducts.

CLEAN YOUR AIR DUCTS

Cleaning out the air ducts in your home can help reduce the pollutants being circulated in your home, and possibly reduce allergy problems.  The air ducts in a home commonly collect pet hair and dander along with dust after construction projects.  When air ducts are professionally cleaned, the process includes sucking out any loose dirt and debris with a HEPA vacuum and then sealing the ducts to prevent any dust too small to be collected from being re-circulated.

MAINTAIN PROPER VENTILATION IN THE HOME

Improper ventilation can create build-up of pollutants in the home and cause health problems.  Keep the air circulating by using fans, opening windows or by using properly maintained HVAC systems.

06Feb 2013

Q: How do you clean up mold?

A:  This is a common question when a homeowner is worried about mold growth in the home.   Here is a basic rundown of what is done during a mold test and what a professional restoration company such as ARS Flood and Fire Cleanup does during mold remediation.

Mold Testing

Mold testing is the collection of mold samples for laboratory analysis.  Usually it is an Industrial Hygienist that will come and take both surface and air samples to be tested in a laboratory although there are some do-it-yourself home mold tests on the market.  A surface sample is taken directly from the surface by a tape lift imprint, a cotton swab, or actual piece of mold surface.  For air samples, a canister called a spore trap will be set, and a representation of the mold in the air will be determined by the number of spores that are captured.  The surface and air tests are important to identify what types of molds are present.  This data is useful in determining proper remediation procedures as well as the seriousness of potential risks. The data from the test can be used in determining what needs to be done to remove any mold spores found.

Mold Remediation

Mold remediation is basically the process taken to clean up mold damage, usually done by a professionally certified restoration company such as ARS Flood and Fire Cleanup.  Here are the steps we take to cleanup mold in a home or business:

The first step is to correct the moisture problem that is causing mold to grow.  There are many causes of moisture in a home.  Some of them are leaky pipes or drains, improper drying of surfaces after a flood, or condensation build-up.  The bottom line is that all moisture problems need to be fixed to prevent further mold damage.

The second step is safety.   Mold has the potential to cause serious health concerns, which is why during mold remediation it is imperative to protect the health and safety of the occupants and technicians.   ARS technicians prevent exposure during cleanup by wearing safety equipment such as full face respirators, suits and gloves. They also prevent mold from spreading through the air by containing the mold spores with a negative air machine/air scrubber which draws air from the contaminated room and other rooms and releases it clean and filtered.

The third step is removal of the mold spores.  ARS technicians are trained to safely remove mold from all types of surfaces or locations. If mold is located in the drywall or behind the wall, technicians remove the contaminated area, plus an efficient amount surrounding it to ensure all mold spores are removed. They then use a Hepa Vacuum to vacuum and contain the mold spores to keep them from being released into the air. If located on lumber or framing of the home, the technicians sand the lumber or material, Hepa Vacuum the spores and then spray anti-microbial to promote killing any other mold spores.

The fourth step is reconstruction of the area to repair it to its pre-mold condition.   This may include replacing drywall, carpet or any other surfaces affected by mold growth.  Whatever needs to be done to return the home or building office back to the pre-loss condition can be done through ARS.

In conclusion, when a homeowner can see mold growing or is aware of a mold problem already, they do not need to get a mold test but can call a restoration company to begin the mold remediation process.  Call ARS Flood and Fire Cleanup and we can set up an appointment for an estimator to visit your home and determine what it will take to cleanup any mold.  If you cannot see mold spores but are worried about mold growth behind walls etc. we can schedule an appointment for you with an industrial hygienist to test your home for mold.


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Joe Jeppson 003

23Jan 2013

What are the major causes of water damage and how can I prevent it?

Water damage to a home can come in various forms and wide-ranging damage.  From the smallest toilet overflow to the largest sewage flood, water damage can create frustrations and anxiety for any homeowner.  Here is what we have found to be the top four causes of water damage in a home.

  1. Acts of Nature.  Most flooding by natural causes in Utah occurs after a heavy rainfall or quick snow melt in the spring.  Homes situated near a body of water such as a river or dam can be subject to flooding in the basement or lowest lying section of the home when the water rises.  Water may seep into a home after a heavy rainfall due to a higher water table and small cracks in the foundation.  Sewage back-up may occur after a heavy rainfall if rainwater is drained into the sewage line.   Homes situated in mudslide zones are also in danger of extensive damage.
  2. Accidents and/or negligence.  Accidents that cause water damage are more common than people think. Leaving a lawn sprinkler system running too long with a yard that slopes towards the house, or water hose that overflows into a window well are some of the water accidents we see that happen from outside.  Sink or bath overflows from accidentally leaving a tap running, or neglected pipes that freeze due to abnormally cold weather conditions and others can also happen inside the home that will cause water damage.
  3. Defective Appliances and Fixtures.  Clothes washers that leak, hot water heaters, showers, bathtubs, toilets or basically any appliance that is defective and runs water through it can cause water damage.
  4. Faulty Construction.  Faulty construction of a home can also cause water damage to a home.  Leaky roofs and windows usually manifest themselves after a big rain or snow storm and can cause damage to ceilings and walls. During construction, accidental nails through a water pipe or poor drainage have also been causes we’ve seen of water damage to a newly constructed home.

While most of the causes for water damage are accidental or out of the control of the homeowner, there are some things you can do to prevent damage in the future.  Regular inspections of the following potential trouble spots may save you in the future.

  1. Kitchen: Check the hoses and pipes of the dishwasher, refrigerator, and sink to make sure there aren’t any leaks.
  2. Bathroom: Check the caulking around the sinks, tubs, and toilets and make sure the toilets aren’t clogged.
  3. Laundry room: Inspect the washing machine hoses for cracking, fraying, or bulging and replace it if any problems are found.  Check for wet spots around the water heater and place a drain pan under the water heater.  Change the filters on the air conditioning regularly.
  4. Roof: Keep debris out of gutters, downspouts, roots, and valleys.  Ventilate the roof to reduce moisture and heat build-up in the attic.
  5. Foundation:  Fill in low spots so water drains away from the home’s foundation.

Responding quickly and effectively to any water leak or damage is the most important factor to prevent extensive damage.   For questions about water damage check out our website or give us a call- we’d love to answer any questions.

23Jan 2013

Everyone needs a good “New Year’s Resolution” and mine is to use our ARS Blog to provide you with useful articles & information that will help you in the event of a “disaster”. Watch for our “Ask the ARS Expert” posts coming every couple of weeks. If you like an article or if you have a specific question that you’d like our experts to address, please make a comment in the comments section of the blog. Our goal is to provided you with information and knowledge that will help you avoid a disaster if possible. If not, “Got a mess? Call ARS!”