Category: Water Damage Restoration (Page 2 of 2)

January Home Maintenance

Happy New Year! I love January for the fresh start it brings to mind. Start your year off right by updating your new calendar with your scheduled appointments and tasks, and tackling this month’s list of your home to-do’s early! You’ve got this!

  • Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Keep an eye out for bargains on discontinued appliances and tools. Before buying, make sure the warranties are still valid.
  • Organize your home improvement files. Review warranties and product manuals for recommenced maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances, and tools. Update your calendar to keep everything on schedule.
  • Update your home inventory list. Add new items that you received as holiday gifts. Photographs to go with your room-by-room list will be very helpful in the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster.
  • Review your homeowner’s policy. Make sure you have enough coverage under your contents section (your updated inventory list comes in to play here), and be aware of the different deductibles you may be subject to. For instance, a wind deductible is usually higher than a standard policy deductible, and groundwater is often not a covered loss.
  • Remove drain traps from under your sinks and clean them thoroughly along with the pop-up drain plugs. Test your water heater temperature pressure relief valve by lowering the test lever and allowing some water to flow through the pipe. If no water flows or if it only trickles out, replace the valve.

Here’s your printable January Home Maintenance Checklist

December Home Maintenance

Decorations, strolls, carols, parties, football and the start of winter weather – December sure has a lot going on! We’ve simplified this month’s maintenance to-do list so that you can focus on the beauty of this special time of year. From our big Whalen Restoration Services family to yours, Happy Holidays!

  1. Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  2. Unpack and test all electrical holiday decorations. Repair or discard any that do not function properly.
  3. Review the family fire escape and emergency plans with every household member.
  4. Check your fire extinguisher’s expiration date and the gauge to ensure that it is fully charged.
  5. Check that there is still insulation around all exterior pipes and make sure that water cannot seep under the insulation.
  6. Detail clean your dishwasher, trash compactor and countertop appliances.
  7. Clean your range hood and either clean or replace the filter.

Printable version: December Home Maintenance Checklist

Dealing with Ice Dams

It’s still winter and we have the snowy forecasts to prove it. Snow and fluctuating temperatures create the recipe for ice dam formation. What exactly is it that causes them? Well, if there is snow on your roof and you have a “heat leak” (a spot where there’s not enough insulation and the heat from the house is escaping), the heat will actually start to melt the snow around it. The water will run down the roof, but with the low temperatures it will then refreeze forming an ice dam. The more snow that melts, the more water that runs, the bigger the dam gets. Once the temperatures rise and all of the snow starts to melt, water will back up behind the dam and can leak into your home underneath your roof shingles. We still have plenty of winter left to add to this potential recipe for disaster, but you can avoid the costly damage that can become of this mix by monitoring two simple things. Ice dam formation and clear drainage paths.

Snow on Roof

You’ve probably heard about ice dams in the news, especially in winter of 2015, but like many other common property dangers you may not be aware of the actual danger they may pose to your home. Reconsider the “it won’t happen to me” idea and do the following to protect your investment.

  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of ice and debris. Regardless of the formation of ice dams or not, the snow is eventually going to melt and the water will have to be directed away from the house. If you’re already following our monthly maintenance to do lists, you’ve already made sure that the spouts are directing water at least 3′ away from your foundation.
  • Clear your roof of the snow and ice. You probably don’t even know that you have a heat leak in your roof until you see the ice dam form. You’ll have to address the insulation later, but first things first, remove the dam that has already formed. Although the safest option is to hire a snow removal professional, you can (carefully) remove it yourself by using a roof rake, not a shovel, to push the snow off without damaging your shingles. Don’t stand underneath where any icicles or dams may fall, avoid contact with your electrical wires, and make sure someone else is around just in case you need some help.
  • Melt a channel to direct the water. Another option for existing dams is to create drainage paths in the ice for when they start to melt. Fill a large sock with a melting agent such as calcium chloride and place it directly on the dam perpendicular to your gutter. The purpose of the sock is to control the release of the melting agent, and by laying the sock perpendicular to the gutter you’ll create a channel in the ice for the water to eventually drain through. If the dam runs the length of your roof, you’ll want to put several socks up there.

What if the ice dam and snow build up has already started a leak inside the house?

  • Mop up the standing water.
  • Put a bucket under the drip to collect any additional water.
  • Move your stuff away from the area to prevent it from also getting wet.
  • Call a professional to deal with the snow and ice dam.
  • Call a water mitigation professional to deal with the interior damage and drying. Even a small leak can make it’s way through several layers of your home, and everything will need to be completely dried to avoid mold growth.
  • Call your insurance agent or your insurance company to see if the damage will be covered under your policy. Find out what you’ll owe out of pocket for your deductible.

So, if you notice an ice dam forming on your roof, remove the snow and ice as soon as safely possible. If you can’t rake the dam off, create a channel for the water run trough it with a controlled melting agent. Take a picture and note where the dam formed, then address the insulation in that area to make sure it doesn’t form again.

Questions or concerns about any of these details and tips? Send us an e-mail! We’d love to hear from you!

Air Quality Weighing You Down? It Could be the humidity.

The days of simply opening the window to clear a stuffy house aren’t always available. For year-round relief and protection for your home start running a dehumidifier.

What do dehumidifiers do? Dehumidifiers reduce the amount of moisture in the air. They work just like air conditioners only they contain both hot and cold coils.

How do dehumidifiers work?
Air is drawn in to the dehumidifier and any moisture contained in that air is condensed onto cold coils. This dries the air. The dry air then passes over hot coils and is circulated back into the room. The moisture that condensed onto the cold coils is drained into a tank or “pint”. You have to periodically empty this tank to avoid overflow. Some dehumidifiers can simply be set to a certain humidity percentage and it will automatically run itself to maintain that specified level. If you don’t feel like emptying the you may find one with a pump system that you can then direct so that the water safely away from your foundation.

In the months that you run air conditioners in your home you may not need to run the dehumidifier if the air conditioning is keeping the humidity low enough. A hygrometer, which can be purchased at some hardware stores, will give you an accurate humidity reading.

Who can benefit from a dehumidifier?
Everyone can benefit from controlled air conditions, but even more so are people with allergies, asthma, or those who are living in moist conditions. Here on Cape Cod, being so close to the ocean, we are all very familiar with moist conditions.

Do you find that symptoms including stuffy nose, eye irritation or sneezing increase when spending time indoors? A number of irritants, including dust mites, could be the culprit. Dust mites live in mattresses, upholstery, curtains, rugs and even get mixed up the air. (This is why you should vacuum mattresses and upholstery once a week with a HEPA filter vacuum). Bringing the level of moisture in the air down will make it less environmentally friendly for mites, mold and mildew.

Controlling the indoor air humidity with a dehumidifier will also reduce the amount of dusting you need to keep up with, reduce door frame swelling, and lengthen the life of your windows by reducing any condensation on them. The air will smell noticeably fresher. You may even find that your laundry takes less time to dry, and that your food keeps longer.

What are signs of moisture?

  • Stains on ceilings and/or walls
  • A “stuffy” feeling when you enter a room
  • Rotten trim and/or wooden areas
  • Musty odors
  • Condensation found on windows
  • A hygrometer reading above 40-50%

How do you choose a dehumidifier? Your choices will be narrowed down with two variables: the amount of area the unit will cover and the size of the water tank that holds the condensed moisture. If you’ve ever purchased an air conditioner you know that it needs to be able to cover the entire cubic space of the room to work properly. Measure the area of space you’ll need to dehumidify (cubic feet) and select a unit that will cover at least that amount of space if not more. The higher the humidity in your geographical area, the larger the tank you’ll want your unit to have.

Don’t forget about maintenance on your dehumidifier. They can run above and beyond a few hundred dollars depending on the size you need so you’ll want to maintain them properly to get your money’s worth. Filters will need to either be cleaned or replaced so factor them into the cost when comparing units. Also, look for the energy efficient models to reduce the increase in electricity use. Some are also louder than others. If it’s in the basement you may not be too concerned with the noise, but if it’s close to a bedroom or entertaining space you may opt for a quieter version.

With all of the calls concerning mold in basements, musty bedroom and closet odors, and heat of summer mildew I highly advise that dehumidifiers are run to keep these occurrences at a minimum. If you do run into any of these while running a dehumidifier or not, always check first to make sure its not a slow leak, drip, or pending water damage. If it is, the sooner you find it the better.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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