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Holiday Preparations And Safety Tips

Holiday Preparations And Safety Tips

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year and with good reason: festivities, lights, decorations… not to mention all the treats that make most of us go on a diet come January. 

Children, in particular, love the lights and all the indoor and outdoor decorations that give the holidays an extra sparkle. But every year we hear of terrible accidents involving such decorations. Christmas trees alone have been known to cause over 13 million dollars worth of fire and property damage every year. This damage doesn’t include accidents with menorah candles, electrical issues with string lights, or kitchen fires!

How can we ensure that our festive days are full of joy and empty of tears? 

Trees and Fire Don’t Match

Christmas tree safety tips | Valley Restoration & Construction services

If you are putting up a Christmas tree, make sure it is far away from the fireplace and any candles. For good measure, have a fire extinguisher close by or mark in your mind the closest fire extinguisher to the tree.

When choosing a fake tree, confirm that its label states that it is fire-resistant. Even so, don’t put it near a fireplace or any heating device. Secure its base to make sure your tree is not unsteady and save it from crashing on children… or cats.

If you opted for a live tree, remember that they can be highly flammable due to their sap. Also, remember to water it! Most conifers require cold to thrive. Placing a few ice cubes once a day will go a long way toward making your tree happy.

Avoid Fragile And Inedible Decorations

When it comes to decorations, unbreakable ornaments are invaluable. They will not break and are safe for crawling toddlers and mischievous pets.

Speaking of decorations, remember that young children tend to put everything and anything in their mouths. If you have a toddler at home, it’s best to invest in large, unbreakable ornaments that have no detachable small parts.

If you have any decorations that look like candy but are not, remember that said toddlers like to taste things. Avoid them until your children are old enough to understand what is real food and what is not.

Also, remember that certain plants can be poisonous when ingested: poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly can be potentially poisonous. Keep them out of reach of children and pets.

Candles

Advent candles safety tips | Valley Restoration & Construction services

Candles are synonymous with the holidays. But they can also be a fire hazard! Whether you’re using a Kwanzaa kinara, a Haunnukah menorah, or an Advent candle, be sure to keep an eye on the candle’s flame.

Place candles somewhere where children and pets have no access. 

Never leave an unattended candle burning; before leaving the house or going to bed, blow them out.

When opening presents and enjoying the presence of your loved ones, make sure you don’t knock candles off the table. Make sure the table or shelf they are on is stable, sturdy, and not wobbly.

Icy Paths

Regarding your yard, make sure that you have cleaned any ice from the paths. It’s also good to rake any fallen leaves from garden paths and patios because people may slip on them.

Double-check that tree branches are sturdy and properly trimmed; if they fall, they could drag your Christmas lights with them.

The Fire Is So Delightful

Christmas fireplace safety tips | Valley Restoration & Construction services

Fire is delightful as long as it stays in the fireplace. Be careful about what you burn in it. Wrapping paper can catch fire instantly and spread fire sparkles.

Don’t burn your live tree at the end of the season in your fireplace; the burnt tree sap may build up on the chimney and clog it. A house reeking of smoke is not quite so delightful anymore.

Another fire hazard comes from overloaded power outlets. If you’re lucky, overloading will only shut off your power. If there is no circuit breaker, however, overloading could cause overheating. An overheated wire tends to melt, leading to fire… and not the delightful kind.

Light, Bulbs, Action

When it comes to lights, indoor lights are different from outdoor ones. Confirm you are using the proper ones for each situation. Don’t try using interior lights in an exterior environment unless the product specifically states the lights can be used outdoors.

When buying new lights, make sure they have been tested by the professionals who made them for safety. The packaging or a quick internet search will tell you if they’ve been lab tested by the ETL/ITSNA or UL.

Because plastic deteriorates over time, take a look at your lights if you have been using the same ones for a few years. Plastic polymerizes with time, making it fragile and exposing the wires underneath. Cracked insulation can lead to sparks; not the best idea when your lights are in contact with a tree branch. Make sure there are no exposed wires and the electric cord is not twisted.

Also, check your bulbs. If any bulbs are broken, change them after taking your lights out of the power socket.

Don’t run light cords at a long distance over the floor: these are accidents waiting to happen. If you’re so committed to tripping up your family, you may as well scatter banana peels around the tree.

Lights for external use are weather- and rain-resistant. When putting them up, don’t use nails or screws. You could drill the cord or wires by accident and damage the cord insulation. Use hooks and strings instead. If you’re plugging in exterior lighting, make sure it’s plugged into a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle) outlet to protect from electrical shock.

If you are putting lights high up, make sure your ladder is safely positioned. It’s good to have another person helping you because bending and stretching on a ladder can be dangerous. It would be a pity to spend your holidays in crutches!

Also, remember to tightly fasten your lights and any outdoor decorations. Winter winds can blow them away and into Santa’s path. Wouldn’t it be a shame to get no presents because Santa was unable to reach your chimney?

Finally, don’t leave your lights on overnight. A simple timer will ensure they burn only for as long as you can enjoy them. Leaving them overnight is a fire hazzard – and pretty bad for the environment.

So, stay safe and enjoy the holiday season! And if you need any help with your holiday preparations (or any other time of the year), Valley Restoration and Construction can help! Contact us online or call us on 970-964-4437. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for fire and flood emergencies.
Things to Remember When Prepping Your Garden for Winter

Things to Remember When Prepping Your Garden for Winter

Winter is right around the corner, meaning any gardeners need to prep their gardens for biting cold air and snow.

For many, it’s hard to find the motivation to winterize your garden after all your hard work for the past two seasons. However, that doesn’t diminish the importance of preparing your garden for the colder months. 

So, what are the things you’ll need to prepare?

Preparing the Structures and Tools

Pathways, tools, garden beds, and watering systems should all be considered when getting ready for the winter.

  • Pathways: If you want to minimize excessive pavement cracking or isle slipperiness, try to clear out these pathways after most of the leaves have fallen. Clear pavements with a stiff broom or brush and some water. You can simply rake dirt or gravel paths to get rid of debris.
  • Buildings: Autumn is a good time to repair any issues with your fencing or greenhouse since you no longer have to worry about the plants themselves. Pests and decaying wood should be treated or replaced as necessary.
  • Water features: From waterfalls to ponds to fountains, it’s important to unclog any filtering or drainage systems and turn off any water that may run through the system’s piping. If you have a pond, fall is a great time to clean it out. However, it’s also important to keep the pond at a temperature that will keep it from freezing if you have fish inside!
  • Lighting: This is purely aesthetic rather than necessary but it can make a big difference to your garden. People often find it relaxing to have decorative lights during the winter so their garden space doesn’t look so empty without all of the plants to fill it.
  • Watering Systems: Taking the necessary steps to prepare your garden’s drip systems, hoses, and sprinklers is more important than you think. Not doing this could cause issues with piping and even lead to your watering systems breaking.
  • Tools: Since you don’t have to care for your plants during winter, this is a great time to care for your tools. Sharpening and cleaning your gardening tools helps ensure a longer lifespan and more effective use in the future.

FAQ’s on Prepping the Garden Itself

  • “What should I add to the soil in the fall?” Preparing your soil for spring by adding various kinds of nutrients in the fall can give these components more time to break down and become part of the soil when spring rolls around. Try adding bone meal, compost or manure, rock phosphate, and other plant-worthy nutrients and minerals.
  • “Should I cover my garden in the winter?” Yes! There are many ways to cover your crops, though. Planting certain plants meant to last through the winter can help you avoid soil erosion as well as add nutrients to the soil. Covering a bed with compost first, then mulch can also protect the soil. Finally, you can cover your garden beds by snugly placing a simple mesh gardening cloth on the garden bed. Don’t forget to also wrap the trees!
If you experience any home disasters during the winter months (or any other time of the year), Valley Restoration and Construction can help! Contact us online or call us on 970-964-4437. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for fire and flood emergencies.
Removing Stains from Your Home

Removing Stains from Your Home

Stains can come from just about anything and, unfortunately, they can force their way into our lives with something as simple as a sauce spill. When addressed right away, many potential stains can be treated right away. However, there are some options in certain settings that allow you to treat discolorations that have been in your home for years!

Carpet

Dirty pets and kids, red sauces, wine spills, and an endless list of other things could all be causes of stains on your carpet. Some stains build up as dirt over time through general use, where some appear after an event like a spill or a muddy dog running inside. How can you get your carpet looking clean again?

If a spill just happened, it’s best to address the accident right away before a stain has time to set in. To do so, treat the area with a stain remover and follow the provided instructions. If you don’t have a stain remover, these simple mixtures could help get the mess cleaned up.

Some of these solutions also work for older stains, so if you’re having a hard time getting an old discoloration out of the carpet, give one of these a try.

  • Salt and Vinegar: Mix 2 tablespoons of salt into 1/2 cup of white vinegar and let the salt dissolve. Apply the mixture, wait for it to dry, then vacuum it up!
  • Vinegar and Cornstarch: This works well for old stains and dirt that has been ground into the carpet for a long period of time. Make a paste that includes 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Let this mixture sit for 2 days on the discolored area, then remove it with a vacuum or a rag.
  • Vinegar, Laundry Detergent, and Water: This mixture works well for paint spills and juice stains! Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar, two cups of water, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of laundry detergent. Let it sit for a couple of hours, then clean it up!

Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceiling is known to catch all kinds of dirt and can easily turn yellow from smoke or water damage. It’s best not to paint over popcorn ceiling because this makes it incredibly challenging and expensive to remove if you or a future resident ever decides to take it off. However, painting is also the easiest solution to cover up stains if you don’t mind the popcorn texture.

If you do decide to clean the stains, however, here’s how!

  • Use some bleach. Mixing 5 parts water with one part bleach to help any yellowed colors return to their original white. Just make sure the ceiling is not too wet! This could cause the texture to dissolve.
  • Rid of the grease. If you have any popcorn textures in your kitchen, there’s a high chance it has gathered a lot of grease and may be discoloring your white ceiling. Use a damp rag (again, be sure it isn’t too wet) to collect any grease then if there is still a stain, use the method above after the ceiling has completely dried. A dryer sheet that is warm and slightly damp can also pick up grease quickly.

Smells

Other than visible stains, there are also stains that could leave a smell like pets or smoke from fire damage or past and current smokers. Luckily, while it may take some time, smells can be gotten rid of!

Wipe down walls, floors, furniture, and the ceiling with rag that has been dampened with vinegar. You could also try and let everything happen passively. Simply open a window (to get rid of the smell temporarily) or set out a few bowls that are filled with charcoal or baking soda to absorb the smells on a more permanent level. You could even sprinkle some baking soda throughout your carpet to absorb the smell. Afterwards, just vacuum it up!

Another great way to clean up your home is with a professional carpet cleaning! Learn more on the Valley Restoration website.

Fall Cleaning: Keep Your Gutters intact!

Fall Cleaning: Keep Your Gutters intact!

With fall approaching, it’s important to know how you can keep your home intact. Cleaning out the gutters on your roof is one of the many ways to keep your home in good condition as the seasons change.

Why do you need to clean your rain gutters?

During autumn, leaves can easily clog up your gutter system. This doesn’t even include all the other debris that has built up throughout the year. When these places get clogged, they can cause some serious problems. For example:

  • They could fall. When leaves and other debris back up rain gutters, any water is held there instead of draining away. When winter comes along and freezes the water, your gutters may pull away from your home and fall to the ground. This could result in a lot more effort and money in order to restore the system!
  • Water may spill over. Water could spill over the sides of the gutters, making the entire rain system completely useless. This could cause staining to the exterior of your home as well as foundation cracks.
  • It could cause rot. A backed-up gutter system could cause a lot of mold and wood rot. This is especially problematic with wooden walls.

How to clean your rain gutters

If you wish to clean your rain gutters yourself, you may find the following tips useful:

  • Get a tarp or some trash bags ready. Climbing up and down the ladder is asking for trouble. Set up a tarp below you to catch the debris you clear so that it is easier to contain and throw away. Another option is to simply stuff all the debris into a few trash bags as you work, then toss them to the ground.
  • Use the right tools. Simple tools like a spatula, a gardening trowel, or even something like a toy shovel can make all the difference! Once everything is loosened, spray out anything extra that you didn’t physically remove with a hose. This will also let you make sure everything drains properly.

Safety

It’s important to be safe while you work! While clearing out debris, be sure to follow a few easy steps to help you avoid any injuries.

  • Wear some gloves. Your home’s gutters could have sharp edges or sharp objects lodged inside all the debris, so be sure to wear protective gloves to avoid any cuts.
  • Wear safety goggles. Digging up debris could cause some to fly at your face. Keep your eyes safe with safety goggles.
  • Check your ladder. Make sure it’s in working condition and check for any rusty steps. A nasty fall is the last thing you need!
  • Remember that you’re high up. If you have the supplies and know-how to use them, a tether or harness could protect you from serious fall damage. Either way, be cautious and watch your step as you are clearing out the leaves and debris.
  • Accept help. If someone offers to help you with cleaning your rain gutters, accept! It’s always best to have someone with you, even if it’s just so they can watch your back or fetch any tools (or refreshments) you may need while up there.
For other home care, restoration, and construction tips, keep reading the Valley Restoration blog!
Why Should you get Your HVAC Ducts Cleaned?

Why Should you get Your HVAC Ducts Cleaned?

How to Know if You Need to Clean

Unless your air ducts are visibly filthy, it may be hard to detect a dirty air duct without inspecting it. If your air ducts are in need of cleaning, you may experience:

  • Higher level of allergy symptoms: If you find yourself sneezing, itching your eyes, or experiencing other allergy-related symptoms on a more regular basis, it may be because of a dirty HVAC system. When it gets dirty, the dust and grime inside blows out, gets into your air, then gets cycled back through the system.
  • Increased mold: Especially when in humid environments, mold could be an issue. In general, if you believe mold could be in any of your home’s ventilation systems, make sure to get them cleaned as soon as possible.
  • Pests: Any signs of pests or vermin in your home may mean you need to get the air ducts cleaned.
  • Dirt: Sometimes, the need for cleaning is obvious when dirt and grime starts to build up in any visible areas of your home. It could be seen on the ceiling or walls around the vents or on the vents themselves.
  • Air Filter: HVAC systems often have an air filter attached. If this filter is covered in dust, dirt, and grime, it should be replaced your ventilation system should be cleaned.

Why You Should Clean the Ducts

No matter the season, not cleaning your HVAC system and air ducts can have a huge impact on your health and quality of living.

  • Indoor air quality: Dirty ducts means dirty air. As stated above, grime in your ventilation system can cause debris to blow out into your home.
  • Allergies: Some people have found their allergies decrease significantly after a duct cleaning.
  • Expenses: You can actually save money by cleaning out your AC or swamp cooler (also known as evaporator cooler) ducts! Air can flow better when the pathways are clear and the system will not have to be repaired as often. Also, your bills may decrease because less air and energy is being used.
  • Mold: Dirty ducts are known to collect moisture, meaning mold may become an issue.
  • Pests: Some people have noticed a higher level of bugs and vermin when their air ducts are filled with debris. If this is an issue, get your home’s system cleared out.

If you are unable or unwilling to clean the air duct system on your own, contact the professionals here at Valley Restoration and Construction! Learn more on our web page: https://valleydrc.com/carpet-cleaning-hvac-duct-cleaning/

Finding Issues with Your Home’s Foundation

Finding Issues with Your Home’s Foundation

The foundation of a home or building is meant to provide structural support. It keeps the structure’s walls, flooring, roof, windows, doors, and firmly in place. When parts of the foundation begin to sink or develop large cracks, it can affect all of these places throughout your home. Here’s how you can know if there is an issue!

Signs of a Foundation Problem

The foundation may cause signs of excessive wear and tear in many different places in your home.

  • Doors and windows aren’t closing or opening properly. You may notice your doors or windows either aren’t closing all the way or are failing to stay closed. On the other hand, they may be almost impossible to open. In any of these cases, it’s possible that the window and door framing have shifted as the foundation has shifted.
  • You can see gaps. Gaps may be visible around doors (particularly exterior ones) or windows. They may not be correctly aligned. Similarly, cabinets, countertops, or baseboards may be visibly pulling away from the walls and creating a gap.
  • Your floor is no longer flat. Sometimes, foundations are pushed upwards by soil and cause an upheaval of soil and concrete under your floor. This is a major example of foundation changes that can affect not just the flooring, but walls, windows, and doors as well. You may notice that certain places on your floor have bubbled, sagged, or taken on a wavy appearance.
  • You have noticed cracks and fractures. The walls, floors, or ceiling may start to create cracks along their surfaces. Bricks, concrete, and chimneys may see similar signs as they break apart due to foundational shifts.

What causes these problems with the foundation?

The foundation of your home is meant to protect the structure from the constantly changing soil beneath it. However, after a while, even this base starts to be affected by the earth’s shifting.

  • Water: Just like any other part of a building, there are always going to be small cracks in the foundation that, by themselves, have no effect on the home. However, when water gets into these cracks, it will begin to erode the material. Places like Colorado where it gets quite cold see the most problems of this kind because when the water fills the cracks, it can also freeze and expand. This further breaks down the foundation material.
  • Wet and dry soil: When there is a lot of moisture in the soil, it will swell and put pressure on the base of your home. However, when the soil dries at a quick pace, the soil will contract and your home will settle into the ground. When the soil later expands again due to moisture, the materials supporting your house may begin to break down again.
  • Movement of Land: Even the smallest of earthquakes or general shifting earth can move the foundation around and cause problems.

Although there isn’t much you can do about the natural shifting of the earth affecting the foundation from the outside, you can help preserve your foundation from the inside! Remember that water is the main cause of foundation problems. That’s why when it floods, you’ll want to take care of it quickly and effectively. Valley Restoration can help when it comes to restoring water damage! Learn more about our services by calling 970-964-4437.