Few things are more valuable than the air we breathe. But how clean is the air in your house, especially in the winter?
During the winter months, most of us spend a lot of time indoors as going out can often be a bit challenging. Spending time at home with our loved ones is lovely. So is sitting by the fireplace or cooking. However, all this also means that we breathe in air that has not been renewed or cleaned.
Smoke from the fireplace or the stove, steam from the cooker, or dust from the carpets can produce harmful particles in the air we breathe. Even burning candles, while romantic, harms the air we breathe.
So, how can we make sure that, even in the winter, the air in our house is as clean and fresh as possible?
How dirty is the air in our houses?
The air in our houses can often be dirtier than the outside air.
There is a surprising amount of potential pollutants inside a house. For instance, pets can spread pet dander and hair into the air. Mold can develop in the bathroom due to leakage or poor ventilation. An open fireplace will circulate smoke and ash particles through the house. A gas cooker may have an undetectable leak that compromises the quality and purity of the air. And the ventilation system might not be working properly, failing to clean the air around the house.
Here are some things you can do to keep the air clean around the house.
The easiest way to clean the air in the house is to clean the house itself.
Dusting and vacuuming remove harmful particles and mites from rugs and carpets. Vacuum curtains and other textiles such as throws and cushions, especially if animals sit on them.
Cleaning surfaces like tables, chairs and other furniture with a damp—but not wet—cloth removes dust and other allergens.
Remember that, some cleaning products may contain harmful chemicals that can trigger your allergies. You may prefer to choose natural cleaning products such as vinegar or soda or opt for shop-bought nontoxic cleaning products.
Our first impulse in winter is to keep our windows shut. It makes absolute sense because we don’t want the cold air from outside entering our house.
However, opening the windows, even for a few minutes, is a great way to clean the air inside the house.
Choose a day where outside humidity is low and open the windows to get some fresh air inside the house. Try to open several windows: the resulting draft will clean the air throughout the house.
Pets are a lot of fun. They are also a source of allergens, but that’s no reason to get rid of Fido!
If you are concerned about the quality and cleanliness of your house air, brush your dog’s coat on a regular basis. This will remove excess hair, which would otherwise fall on the carpets and rugs. Bathing your dog regularly also minimizes pet dander and other airborne particles.
Cleaning the dog’s paws after a walk in the park will limit the accumulation of mud and traces of feces on your floors.
Mold is an important cause of poor air inside the house.
Mold tends to develop under sinks, around pipes, and in places in contact with water. It’s a good idea to check your bathroom for leaks and any wet and damp areas. If you see black spots, it could mean that you have a mold problem. Try cleaning the spots with bleach.
The best solution is prevention: check regularly your plants, pots, and drip trays under the fridge for mold growth.
Also, check your shower curtain in the bathroom for signs of mold. If you see any, clean the spots with bleach or detergent, or wash the shower curtain in the washing machine.
Ventilation is the best way to circulate clean air in your house. However, you need to make sure that your ventilation system works properly and the vents are clean from dust.
Clean regularly the filters in the ventilation system: dirty filters cannot clean the air properly and may even worsen the problem.
Air purifiers and dehumidifiers
Air purifiers with the appropriate filters can clean up the air around your house quickly and thoroughly. You can purchase an air purifier with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. These clean the air more efficiently from toxins and pollutants. Also, some air purifiers have activated charcoal to remove odors—something that is always helpful.
Think about installing a dehumidifier to lower the humidity inside the house: lower humidity means less mold.
Lower house humidity also prevents the development of mites, as they thrive in high-humidity conditions.
Gas leakages can go unnoticed but can severely harm the quality of our indoor air and may ultimately be dangerous to our health.
Test regularly the carbon monoxide levels in your house: carbon monoxide levels increase when the fuel (gas) is not burnt completely and fully, leaving residue.
Household appliances such as gas fires, central heating, and cookers can be leaking carbon monoxide. It’s a good idea to have all your gas appliances checked every year to make sure that they are efficient and burn the fuel properly.
Things to avoid
While cleaning, vacuuming and ventilating are very good instincts to keep your house air clean, you can also be pro-active by avoiding certain practices.
The first and foremost is that no smoking should be allowed in the house. Smoking is the primary source of dirty air in a house.
Another helpful step is to take off your shoes when entering the house. Our shoes can bring in the house dirt, mud, feces and many pathogens that we would probably prefer to leave outside our house.
Burning candles is a very comforting habit but it pollutes the air in the house because of the smoke it produces. If you don’t want to avoid it completely, it would be good to limit the use of candles.
Air fresheners are chemicals that mask the smell without cleaning the air. Although they can smell wonderful, they don’t really have a purpose in cleaning the air in your house. If anything, they are adding more chemicals to your indoor areas.
If you suffer from severe allergies, it might be good to consider taking off wall-to-wall carpeting and large rugs from your house. No matter how well and how often you vacuum them—even with a HEPA vacuum cleaner—dust mites and allergens are bound to stick to their surfaces, aggravating allergies and asthma attacks.
And if you get fed up cleaning your house on your own, Valley Restoration and Construction can help! We have the know-how to restore your house to its pristine condition. We also specialize in tile-floor and HVAC duct cleaning. Contact us online or call us now on 970-964-4437!
Few people enjoy the vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and washing associated with cleaning. Cleaning with children running around, however, is even less fun—and much more stressful! Is there any way to make it a little easier?
Involving children in the cleaning process can actually be enjoyable: it can keep young children occupied. It can also teach them some valuable and practical lessons for the future. And, most importantly, your house will be clean without you keeling over with exhaustion.
You may be surprised by how much young children and toddlers want to participate in household chores. It gives them a sense of self-worth and confidence and makes them feel they are old and can master responsibilities in the house. Take advantage of this willingness; it won’t last forever!
Cleaning your house with children
Carpet-cleaning or asbestos removal may be a bit hard for kids. Even toddlers can, however, pick up toys and put them back in their respective boxes. If the boxes are colorful, you can teach toddlers the colors by asking them to separate their toys and put them in specific colored boxes.
They can also perform simple tasks such as cleaning mirrors and windows. Even if they leave a few smudges, your mirrors and windows will be cleaner than before, when they ran their chocolate-covered fingers on them.
Dusting is also something children can do. Dusting lowers the levels of dust and allergens in the house, which is a very good cleaning instinct. Direct your children to surfaces empty of decorations and relatively low-lying so that they can safely reach them. Discourage toddlers from climbing on ladders, as this can be dangerous.
You can also teach children to air their bedroom. Bringing fresh air in your house means fewer allergens, cleaner air, and less mold. Ask them to open their bedroom window and then explain to them they have to count to ten five times before they close their window again. As a bonus, this will keep them occupied for a while and out of mischief.
Folding laundry can also become a game with children. Ask them to organize the clean laundry according to color. Most children enjoy color-coordinating and this can be fun for them, while it will save you time from cleaning and tidying up.
Garden chores and children
Children love the outdoors. Make the most of it by giving your children simple and easy tasks to perform around the garden.
Children can rake a small path or gather the fallen leaves from the bottom parts of the gutters, thus unblocking them. Try finding a small rake that fits your child’s size. You can also ask them to cut dead flowers from flower beds and pots, thus de-cluttering the garden. Just keep an eye on them so that they don’t accidentally uproot your prized magnolias.
Children are amazingly observant and they are incredible at noticing things that are lower to the ground. You can invite them to take a look around the house and look for anything that seems broken, missing, or in need of mending. They might spot a broken tile on a low roof, a stone that needs fixing on the garden path or a gutter getting loose. This whole detection activity can be both a game for them and a lifesaver for your house.
Is it time to Marie Kondo your house? The more clutter in your house, the more things that gather dust and hinder any attempt at cleaning.
Toys, clothes, bikes, and any other things that your children are not using can be given away to charity. Sit down with your child and ask them to decide which toys they do not play with anymore so that you can donate them.
Decluttering can both help your future cleaning and teach your children the beauty of helping others.
Set some ground rules
It’s an inevitable fact of life. With children around, there will always be clutter, crumbs, and crayons lying around the house. However, you can save some precious time—and preserve your sanity—by setting up some ground rules. These will also be essential for keeping your house clean and tidy at all times.
The first rule is, no eating in the bedrooms or on the sofa. Crumbs attract insects. “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” sounds particularly sinister when there are actual bugs in your mattress. Similarly, eating on the living-room sofa is an accident waiting to happen. Cleaning a dirty sofa can be hard unless you hire a specialist cleaner.
No eating or drinking while walking around. Carpets are notoriously difficult to clean, even without crumbs. Adding crumbs to the dirty mix can make your carpets hard to clean and a breeding ground for dust, insects, and allergens. Moreover, spilled orange juice on a white carpet (not to mention cranberry juice) will take a long time to clean and the smell may linger on forever. Eating and drinking are for the dining table.
Only draw and paint in specific areas. Drawing is something that children love but crayons can end up everywhere and anywhere. They also tend to leave unsightly smudges that, again, may require a cleaning specialist. Prepare special areas or a specific table for drawing and painting. Place there all the crayons, pencils, markers, and papers, so that your children know this is the place where they will find all their painting materials.
Helping with the pet
If you have a pet in the family, you already know that pets are fun but also a big source of mess and dirt. Ask your children to brush your pet’s fur. A clean fur is better for the animal’s health and also holds fewer allergens and dust. Also, pets will shed less if frequently brushed.
After a walk in the rain, ask your children to clean your dog’s paws with some tissue. This means you will have fewer mud stains on your carpets.
Finally, children can help with cleaning the areas around the feeding bowls of dogs and cats, which tend to get messy.
Preventive cleaning tasks
Cleaning is necessary but it doesn’t have to be hard. Making sure you have fewer things to clean is the clever thing to do.
Set up a shoe rack at the entrance of your home for all shoes to go there. The lower shoe racks could be dedicated to your children’s shoes. Teach your children to put their shoes there once they have entered the house. This way, your carpets and floors will stay cleaner longer. Besides, it’s healthier to wear slippers rather than shoes in the house. Shoes bring dirt, bacteria, mud, and even feces from the street into your house. It’s best to avoid bringing these into your house.
And if you get truly fed up trying to clean the house on your own, Valley Restoration and Construction can help! We have the know-how to restore your carpets to their original luster. We also specialize in tile-floor and HVAC duct cleaning. Contact us online or call us now on 970-964-4437!
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
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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!