2013 Angie’s List Award Winner Again!!!

2013 Color Decal (12  

It’s now 3 years in a row that we’ve won the Angie’s List Super Service Award.  This year was a clean sweep winning for Mold Testing, Mold Removal, Water Damage Restoration, Smoke Damage Restoration and Bio-Hazard Cleaning.  Each of the 3 years we’ve been on Angie’s List we’ve won their award and have the highest rating on their site, more than any other contractor.  

A Home Checklist When You’re Away

Pipes, water heaters and other appliances can break and leak. In freezing weather, pipes can freeze and both plastic (PVC) and copper pipes can burst, causing major damage in a home left unattended.

Preventing Water Damage When Leaving Your Home Unattended

  • Close and lock all doors, windows, skylights and vents to keep out wind and wind-driven rain
  • In colder climates, don’t turn the thermostat off, instead leave it set to at least 55 degrees F.

If leaving for an extended period of time, the best protection is to shut the water off and drain water lines. In addition:

  • Shut off the gas to the water heater (or the gas company can do this for you), or turn the temperature control to a vacation setting
  • If your house has a water softener, shut off its supply line

If you choose to leave water service on, take the following precautions:

  • Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic and especially in a garage or basement next to an outside wall during the winter
  • Wrap heating tape or cables around water pipes to prevent pipes from freezing
  • Turn off the water supply to individual fixtures like your washing machine, icemaker, toilets and sinks
  • Consider installing an electronic leak detection system
  • Don’t leave appliances (dishwasher, washing machine or dryer) running when you leave, and check to make sure toilets aren’t running
  • Make sure the sump pump is working, especially in late winter or early spring when melting snow or heavy rain increases the risk of basement flooding

By following these items, you can avoid what can potentially amount to tens of thousands of dollars in damages to your property.  If damage should occur, we’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days week.  Call our office or visit our site at http://biowashing.com

What Does A Dehumidifier Do?

Have you heard the phrase, it’s not so much the heat but the humidity that makes you uncomfortable? This phrase describes the hot, muggy environment that results when there is excess humidity in your space. Although most window air conditioners, portable air conditioners and central air conditioning systems remove some excess moisture from your indoor environment, sometimes it isn’t enough. If you notice condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, mold, or musty scents, you probably have a humidity problem. If these problems are ignored, structural damage to your home and its contents, allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and other health issues may arise.

A dehumidifier can help you remedy the moisture problem in your home. These appliances are designed to pull damp, sticky air into the unit, rapidly cool it and condense the moisture, and redistribute the drier, dehumidified air back into your environment using a fan. Depending on your needs and the dehumidifier model you are using, the collected water either drains into a water collection receptacle contained in the dehumidifier or it drains through a hose and into an exterior receptacle (i.e., a floor drain) using simple gravity.

For jobs that require water to be pumped further distances or upward, some dehumidifiers are equipped with internal condensate pumps. Many models are also designed to support external condensate pumps. Condensate pumps are useful when dehumidifying remote spaces because they automate the water removal process to a degree. In addition, pumps and condensate tubing lengthen the reach of drain hoses, allowing users to remove excess water and drain it across further distances—for example, when there isn’t a floor drain nearby. They can also be useful when you need to remove a large amount of moisture from a space and won’t be available to empty the drainage tank regularly.

Dehumidifiers are often placed in the following areas where excess moisture is most prevalent:

  • Basements
  • Crawl Spaces
  • Kitchens
  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Spas or Indoor Pool Areas
  • Warehouses
  • Workshops

Additionally, when you supplement your air conditioner with a dehumidifier, you will achieve the best balance of cool and dry air, which will help your indoors remain healthy and cool.

Choosing the Right Dehumidifier

There are a wide range of dehumidifiers available, with models that vary according to capacity, consumer need, dehumidifier placement, cost, and more. Thus, choosing a dehumidifier can be a tricky process.  One way to start is by figuring out how much moisture you need to remove and within how much space. A leading consumer reporting agency divides dehumidifiers into the following four categories based on capacity:

Small Capacity: These dehumidifiers remove about 25 pints of excess moisture from your environment each day. They are best suited to treat small, damp spaces.
Medium Capacity: Removing 45 to 50 pints of moisture per day, these dehumidifiers are great for dehumidifying damp medium- to large-sized spaces.
Large Capacity: These models are capable of removing up to 75 pints of moisture per day and can treat a wider range of humidity problems—from excessively wet to damp conditions.

Whole-House Capacity: A whole house dehumidifier can be integrated with a home’ existing HVAC system. Many of these dehumidifiers can remove excess moisture in spaces up to 3,000 square feet.

While small, medium, and large are accurate descriptions of dehumidifier capacities, oftentimes these same dehumidifiers—regardless of capacity—will be grouped together as single room dehumidifiers. For small room and offices, dehumidifiers like the Sunpentown SD-30E are great for removing up to 30 pints of moisture each day. Medium-sized rooms, such as large bedrooms and kitchens can benefit from models like the PrimeAire PA5010E 50-Pint Dehumidifier, which removes up to 50 pints of moisture daily from your environment. For large spaces like dens, garages, or lofts, higher-capacity models like the Comfort-Aire BHD-651, which can remove up to 65 pints of moisture from your environment each day, are a great solution.

Capacity isn’t the only variable to take into consideration when choosing a dehumidifier. Depending on the type of space you want to dehumidify, there are more specific models such as crawl space dehumidifiers that are designed to tackle moisture problems in tight crawl spaces and indoor pool dehumidifiers that help keep indoor swimming areas comfortable and reduce moisture-related structural damage. There are also dehumidifiers that address particular types of moisture removal, such as water damage restoration dehumidifiers, that are useful during flood cleanup and recovery. More rugged than household dehumidifiers, industrial dehumidifiers are useful in manufacturing settings and warehouses. These commercial dehumidifiers can help keep your facilities comfortable for employees and protect your merchandise from moisture damage.

Check the manufacturer specifications thoroughly to ensure that you are getting a dehumidifier that will adequately address your moisture problems.  Visit our website at http://biowashing.com

Most Common Indoor Mold Spores

Alternaria
A large spore mold that can deposit in the nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract causing an allergic response. Indoors, it is often found in carpets, textiles, house dust and potentially damp areas like window frames and showers. It can also be found in plant soil.

Aspergillus
Usually found in warmer climates in areas of water damage or extreme dampness. Aspergillus species are also commonly found in house dust. Many species produce mycotoxins which may be associated with disease in humans and some animals. Also found in building materials and in fall leaves and other decomposing matter like compost piles.

Cladosporium
The most commonly identified outdoor fungus, but it can easily enter into the house through the HVAC and other airflow entryways. Cladosporium also has an indoor species that grows on textiles, wood and other porous, damp areas. Both indoor and outdoor species are triggers for hay fever and asthma symptoms.

Penicillium
A very common mold known to cause allergies, hay fever and asthma. Species may be found growing on wallpaper, wallpaper glue and decaying fabrics in water-damaged buildings or homes. It is also found in carpet and in interior fiberglass duct insulation. Some species can produce mycotoxins.

Stachybotrys
Pronounced (stack-ee-BOT-ris), this is an especially toxic black mold that produces airborne toxins (mycotoxins) that can cause serious breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flu-like symptoms and bleeding in the lungs. Stachybotrys requires excessive moisture to thrive (usually running water) and is a slimy black mold. Fortunately, stachybotrys is not found in homes as often as the other molds listed above.

10 Ways to Prevent House Fires

In the U.S., a house catches on fire every 45 seconds. The devastating effects of rapid fires hit homes both emotionally and financially. In fact, Ready.gov reports that direct property loss due to home fires is estimated at $7.3 billion annually. According to the National Studies of Fire Departments, 80% of all civilian deaths from fires occur in the home. The high rates are usually a result of gases and fumes that you can’t smell. Although many house fires are preventable, the smells won’t wake you if you are asleep and thus leaving you vulnerable.

Another contributing factor is the quick rate at which house fires can escalate. The heat from a house fire can reach over 1100 degrees Fahrenheit in only 3 ½ minutes. Additionally, it only takes 4 minutes for the smoke from a house fire to become so thick that your house would be completely dark—even with the lights on.

Thankfully, there are simple solutions and easy changes you can make to protect your home and to stay prepared. Smoke alarms are the best defense against house fires. A working smoke detector can more than double one’s chance of surviving a fire. Because you smell most gases and fumes a smoke alarm is the tried and true way to be awakened and alerted of danger.

1. Faulty appliances and wiring cause the great number of house fires. Make sure to do a full inspection of your home’s appliances. Replace any items with questionable wires and remove them from any dangerous locations. 

2. Never use the range or oven to heat your home. The use of ovens to heat the home can lead to dangerous fumes and gases being emitted. These fumes have an undetectable scent which makes it difficult to protect yourself against before it’s too late. Stick to central heating systems in order to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

3. Cigarettes are a leading cause of house fires. The best way to prevent a house fire from cigarettes is to not smoke by furniture like beds, sofas or chairs, especially before bed. Most often the fires start when a cigarette was dropped on to these furniture pieces.

4. Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources. 

5. Use extreme caution around heating devices. Heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces are leading causes of house fires. Fires tend to start when furniture, boxes or clothing is placed too close to these heat sources, thus, overheating and igniting. 

6. Always install a smoke alarm just outside the sleeping areas. Two out of three people who die in house fires were asleep when the fire began. The sound of the fire alarm can save lives when a fire occurs at night. 

7. Avoid using lighted candles. They’re wonderful for decor but they can be a dangerous addition to your home. If you do light them, keep them safely away from flammable furniture. 

8. Replace mattresses made before the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Since 2007, mattresses have been required by to law to be made safer.

9. Never place a portable generator inside your home. Also, they should only be refueled outdoors or in well-ventilated areas. 

10. Keep your kitchen and appliances free of grease build-up. Cooking fires are common, especially if food cooking is left unattended on the stovetop.

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Understanding Antimicrobials & Biocides

You recently had a water loss in your home and you hired a restoration company to preform the structural drying process.  But do you fully understand the chemicals they may be using in your home?  In this blog, we’ll try to give you a quick overview of Antimicrobials and Biocides, so you can more informed about the process and make you better prepared to hire the proper contractor. 

It is critical to first understand the terminology, technology and chemistry behind the individual product.  The EPA has defined three levels of Biocidal activity:

     Sanitizer:  A cleaning or disinfecting treatment designed to reduce the number of pathogenic microorganisms to a safe level.  This is the lowest level of Biocidal activity.

    Disinfectant:  A solutions designed to destroy or inhibit the growth of microorganisms, but not necessarily their spores.

    Sterilizer:  A product designed to destroy all microorganisms, (fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc.), and their spores.

Your contractor must understand what materials the product will treat effectively and what health and safety risks they present, and to do so they must become extremely familiar to the products label.  The use of a biocidal agent may or may not be advisable, so comprehending the product as well as the situation of when it is to be used is vital. 

Whenever a chemical antimicrobial or biocide is used, restorers must follow the label directions explicitly.  Any product which is labeled an antimicrobial will have an EPA registration number and an approved EPA label.  It is a federal violation of law to use these products in a way that is inconsistent with their labeling. 

When using a biocide, it is important that you are aware of such prior to it’s use.  Most antimicrobials require that the area of application be vacated by occupants and pets during application and for a period of time after application.  Your restorer should make you aware of the product that will used, why it is being used, and how long the structure must be vacated.  If your restorer provides you with a consent form to sign for documenting this procedure, just know that they are following proper protocol to the highest degree.  You can also request MSDS, (Material Safety Data Sheets), on all products being used. 

Understanding the procedure and products used can be extremely helpful when hiring a restorer and also helpful when the process begins to make sure everything is following the required protocol.  Being aware of the chemicals that are used will also be helpful if anyone in your home may be sensitive to some of the ingredients.  For more information, visit our website at http://biowashing.com

What Causes Frozen Pipes?

The water inside pipes can freeze when outdoor temperatures drop below freezing. As freezing water expands, it causes the pressure inside the pipes to increase, possibly leading to bursting pipes.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

  • Insulate pipes, especially those close to outside walls, attics or crawl spaces where the chance of freezing is greatest
  • Seal air leaks surrounding or near pipes
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage
  • Disconnect all outdoor hoses and turn off water to exterior faucets and sprinkler systems
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
  • Keep heat at 55 degrees F. or higher even when you are out of town
  • During a cold spell turn on both hot and cold faucets near outside walls to allow a small trickle of water to run during the night
  • If you need to be away from home, leave the heat on and drain your water system before you go
  • Identify the locations of shutoff valves so that you are prepared to stop the flow of water as soon as possible when a pipe bursts

What to Do When Pipes Freeze or Burst
If pipes freeze:

  • Open all faucets
  • Remove insulation and wrap pipes in rags
  • If all else fails, call your plumber

If pipes burst:

  • Shut off the water immediately to prevent additional damage
  • Take proper precautions to avoid an electrical shock from being in or near standing water
  • Take an inventory of any damaged property or possessions
  • Contact your local claims office to help you locate a vendor specializing in emergency water mitigation services that can properly dry out the damaged area

If you should incur damages from water, call our office as we have a staff on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you’ll speak to a live person.  http://biowashing.com