Prepping for Winter

The temperatures have fallen into single digits the last few nights, and with that comes potential dangers to your home. Here are some tips for getting your home in order to handle a winter storm:

  • Clean out gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
  • Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could become weighted down with ice or snow and fall on your house or your neighbor’s house.
  • Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer.
  • Consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you’re not using it.
  • Have a contractor check your roof to see if it would sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall.
  • Make sure your furniture isn’t blocking your home’s heating vents.
  • During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
  • If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
  • Avoid ice dams by keeping water from melted snow from refreezing in the gutters and seeping under the roof and soaking interior walls.

Here’s how:

  • Ventilate your attic. The colder it is, the less melting and refreezing on the roof.
  • Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
  • Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.

Radon Contaminated Water

Radon is a gas that has no color, odor, or taste and comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in the ground. You can be exposed to radon by two main sources:

  • Radon in the air in your home (frequently called “radon in indoor air”)
  • Radon in drinking water.

Radon can get into the air your breathe and into the water you drink. Radon is also found in small amounts in outdoor air.  Most of the radon in indoor air comes from soil underneath the home. As uranium breaks down, radon gas forms and seeps into the house. Radon from soil can get into any type of building – homes, offices, and schools – and build up to high levels in the air inside the building.  Its gas can also dissolve and accumulate in water from underground sources such as wells. When water that contains radon is used in the home for showering, washing dishes, and cooking, the gas escapes from the water and goes into the air. It is similar to carbonated soda drinks where carbon dioxide is dissolved in the soda and is released when you open the bottle. Some radon also stays in the water, and is not a concern in water that comes from lakes, rivers, and reservoirs because the radon is released into the air before it ever arrives at your tap.

Breathing radon in indoor air can cause lung cancer. The gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe it. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and increase your chances of developing lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. People who smoke have an even greater risk. Not everyone exposed to high levels of radon will develop lung cancer. However, radon in indoor air is the second leading cause of lung cancer. About 20,000 deaths a year in the U.S. are caused by breathing radon in indoor air.

Only about 1-2 percent of radon in the air comes from drinking water. However breathing it increases the risk of lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Some radon stays in the water; drinking water containing radon also presents a risk of developing internal organ cancers, primarily stomach cancer, however this risk is smaller than the risk of developing lung cancer from radon released to air from tap water.

Based on a National Academy of Science report, EPA estimates that radon in drinking water causes about 168 cancer deaths per year: 89% from lung cancer caused by breathing radon released to the indoor air from water and 11% from stomach cancer caused by consuming water containing radon.  If Radon is a concern for you, having it tested by a certified firm and determine whether or not you in fact have an issue.

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The Pressure Sale

Many clients explain to me that my competitors use many tactics to close a contract and one is the Pressure Sale.  This is using every possible tool they have in their bag to persuade a customer into signing a contract.  Homeowners need to remember that these contractors do not work for you, and you’re not obligated to listen to their pitch.  Recently, a customer of ours told me that a different company came out to look at a mold issue, and stayed in their home for hours, almost refusing to leave and urging them to sign a contract.  Now this may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn’t.  And in fact, it happens more than one would think.  The biggest key to dealing with a contractor like this, or any contractor for that matter, is to give them a window of time to explain what they can do and at what cost.  It’s to set the rules, since after all, it is your time and your home.  And when they overstay their welcome, do not feel guilty to ask them to leave, or just explain to them that, “your time is up.”  You don’t need to listen to a contractor that you know you’re already uncomfortable with, nor do you have to entertain their Pressure Sale.  The reason most of the companies use this tactic anyhow is because they’re not really busy and it’s the only way they can get jobs.  This first impression should also give you insight into knowing what it might be like to deal with them if they are hired.

For more information, visit our website at Biowashing.com

Is Legionella Water Testing Important?

Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease receive significant media attention especially when a large number of people become ill or die. In contrast to highly publicized outbreaks, single infections with Legionella bacteria often go unnoticed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease in the United States each year. Legionnaires’ disease is a legitimate public health concern as its fatality rate during an outbreak ranges from 5% to 30% in those who contract the disease. The immediate consequences for the building owner or manager faced with liability claims and negative publicity can be devastating and extremely costly. Many experts agree that proactively managing the risk of Legionella bacteria in cooling towers and water systems is more cost effective than responding to an outbreak retroactively.

While a few states and municipalities have instituted guidelines for monitoring Legionella, there are no federal or state regulations that require routine monitoring of buildings with susceptible individuals. We recommend building owners and hospitals establish a Legionella control and management program, including routine monitoring and testing, in areas where the risk of Legionella infection is high. This accomplishes two tasks:

1) It indicates the effectiveness of control measures already in place, and
2) It provides an early warning of potential problems.

Although some species of Legionella can be found in the soil, most species live in water. The Gram-negative Legionella bacterium thrives in warm, stagnant water but it can survive under a wide range of temperatures (68° to 122°F), pH and dissolved oxygen levels. Legionella pneumophila has been isolated and associated with outbreaks stemming from air-conditioning cooling towers, whirlpool spas and showers. Other water devices can include potable water systems, whirlpool baths, respiratory care equipment, humidifiers and faucets. As water from these sources is aerosolized, individuals inhale the Legionella-containing droplets and the organism is aspirated into the lungs. Smokers and individuals with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing Legionellosis (Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever).

For more information, visit our website by clicking here:  BIOWASHING.com

Plumbing Issues – Part 4

Low Water Pressure

Usually, poor water pressure is caused by clogged pipes. But if you’ve already replaced them or have a newer house with new pipes, try the obvious first. Make sure the shutoff valves near the water meter are fully open. Sounds basic, but plumbers still have to charge for a service call to simply turn a valve handle. Then check the water pressure. If your house is on city water, ask your local water department for a pressure reading. A reading of 45 to 55 psi is ideal.

Or test the water pressure yourself with a pressure gauge (sold at home centers). Hook up the gauge to an outside water spigot, turn on the water, and you’ll get an instant reading. If the reading is low, the city may be delivering water at a low pressure (less than 40 psi). If the city isn’t likely to boost the pressure, consider installing a water pressure booster system, starting at $300 at a home center or plumbing store, or online. Any setting over 80 psi will wear out the washers on your plumbing fixtures. The system we show is only made to fit 1-in. pipe. If you install it yourself, apply for a plumbing permit so your work will be inspected. Some municipalities require a reduced pressure and backflow preventer to be installed when a water pressure booster is hooked up.

2014 Best of Philadelphia – Again!!!

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Here’s a photo showing our latest awards.  On the left is the 2014 Best Of Philadelphia Award for Mold Remediation which we’ve now won two straight years in a row.  We also were inducted into Philadelphia Business Hall of Fame for 2014 which is on the right.  Hard work and dedication from every member of our entire company makes us the highest rated Restoration contractor in our area.

6 Summer Plumbing Tips

Many people overlook the importance of plumbing maintenance in the summer because most of their focus is on pipes not freezing in the winter.  But water use is higher in the summer with outdoor activities, increased shower use, watering of plants, etc.  So here’s an important checklist of maintaining your plumbing in the summer months.

1. Fix Leaks – Inspect shower heads and faucets for leaks. A single dripping faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water in a year. Check toilets for leaks by adding several drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the tank is leaking, colored water will appear in the toilet bowl.

2. Test Your Sump Pump – Test the sump pump by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pump pit. The pump should turn on immediately, remove the water, then turn off.

3. Sewer & Drain Maintenance – Check that all drains have strainers to prevent debris clogging the drain lines. Schedule a sewer line inspection. A video sewer line inspection will help to find the small issues before they become a major problem.

4. Make Sure Plumbing Systems Are Regularly Used – Exercising faucets and water valves under sinks and toilets will prevent them from sticking from underuse.

5. Maintain Your Water Heater – Drain a few gallons from the water heater tank to remove sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and can shorten the life of the water heater. Check with your water heater manufacturer’s instructions for your specific make/model.

6. Have Your Sewer Line Inspected – Over time sewer lines are suitable to damage from tree root intrusion and ground movement. A video sewer line inspection can help find the small problems before they result in major damage.

Checking and fixing issues now can save you thousands of dollars in fees and repairs later.

For more information, visit our website at Biowashing.com