Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Green Cleaning

Imagine you’ve just finished cleaning your home…what does it smell like? Fresh and clean or bleachy and toxic?

Did you know that the cleaner your home, the more toxic it may actually be?

Harmful chemicals in common household cleaners wreak havoc on your respiratory system and some even contain carcinogens. These chemicals are then washed down your drain and make their way into our ground water, wildlife and eventually back into our homes via the food we consume.

Using green cleaning products is the best and safest method to keeping your home safe and allergen-free.

What is green cleaning you ask?

Green cleaning refers to the practice of using environmentally friendly products and procedures which help preserve human health and environmental quality. Using products with ingredients that are naturally occurring and non-harmful to the environment will go a long way in protecting your loved ones, and also the world we live in.

With the increase in awareness of the harmful ingredients in cleaners, there are numerous products you can purchase that are environmentally friendly and safe to use in your home. But be sure to read the ingredients! Seeing words like ‘green’ or ‘natural’ on a label does not always mean they are (those words are not regulated and can be used freely), the same goes for the word ‘organic’, which only means the cleaning products are carbon-based and can still release harmful fumes.

Vinegar, baking soda, lemon and hydrogen peroxide are some of the more common ingredients used to make green cleaning products and it’s likely you already have these in your pantry!

While store bought green products can save you time, they can be a bit costly and may not disclose all ingredients used. By making your own products and you’ll save money and be able to rest peacefully knowing the exact ingredients you’ve used!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Smelly Towels? 4 Easy Ways to Fix It

The last thing you want to do when you step out of a nice warm shower is dry yourself off with a nasty-smelling towel. The stench can be overwhelming, and it really puts a damper on that “fresh from the shower” feeling. Luckily, this problem is easy to solve! With a few strategic cleaning cycles, the musty stench can be a thing of the past.

Here’s how:
The Golden Towel Rule: Do not let your towels stay wet! For each of these methods, it’s important that the towels are dried immediately. Set a timer to ensure that your clothes are switched from the washing machine to the dryer promptly. If you line dry, hang the wet towels in a sunny spot until they’re completely dry.

Method #1: Vinegar Riding Solo
Musty, smelly towels don’t play well with others, so give them their own load. Add one cup of white vinegar to the load – no detergent or fabric softener – and run the washer on the hottest possible setting. The vinegar will kill any lingering bacteria. Then, leave the clothes in the washing machine and run a “normal” load with a standard amount of detergent.    Tip: Don’t add other items to your cycle – the towels should ride alone!

Method #2: Baking Soda and Vinegar Combo
You may remember the baking soda-vinegar combo from your grade school science class days (think: homemade volcano), but these two kitchen powerhouses work well outside of the beaker, too! For this strategy, you’ll run two towels-only cycles. In the first towels-only cycle, add a quarter cup of baking soda and then run the hottest cycle possible. Then, during the second cycle, add a full cup of white vinegar. Think of it as a one-two punch to knock out bacteria and mildew.

Method #3: Microwave Your Hand Towels
If your stinky culprit is a hand or kitchen towel, moisten it and pop that baby in the microwave for 30 seconds. The zap from the microwave will kill bacteria. Important: Let it sit in the microwave for about 10 minutes before removing the towel to avoid a burn. 

Method #4: Double-Whammy Detergent
Sometimes, a double-dose of detergent over two cycles is all your towels will need to kick bacteria to the curb. Keep the load “towels only,” and run the same load back-to-back using your normal amount of detergent in each cycle. Tip: Avoid using fabric softener because it can add residue to towels and make them less absorbent.

If None of These Work: Still got must or mildew? The problem may be your washing machine itself. (This is especially true if you use a front-load washer.) If so, run an empty cycle on the hottest setting and add two cups of white vinegar. This will kill any bacteria lingering in the machine.

Friday, March 10, 2017

How to Avoid Spring Thaw Damage

We’re heading into the home stretch of winter! There’s probably only a few more big snow falls in our future, which means it’s time to start planning for spring - which is probably the most fun home maintenance season.

However, one thing that often gets overlooked, with catastrophic results, is preparing for the spring thaw. Make sure your home is prepared with these tips for both inside and outside of your home to make sure you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on repairing damage, or even worse, that your valuables get damaged by the water.

Here are 17 ways you can prep your home to ensure you aren’t the victim of water damage this spring:

Outside Your Home
  1. Get any remaining snow away from your house.
  2. Check property for anything that’s preventing the melting snow from draining away from your house and make sure there is a clear path for it to follow.
  3. Make sure your eaves and downspouts are in good shape and don’t need any repairs. Get them cleaned!
  4. Make sure there is proper grading around your home so that water runs away from your home, not towards it.
  5. Clear out the window wells - remove any dirt, leaves, and other debris - you can also install window well covers.
  6. Check your foundation for cracks.
  7. Check on shingles, chimneys, air vents, and flashing to make sure nothing is damaged from the snow.
  8. Repair any sidewalks, patios, decks, and driveways that may have places where water can pool near your house.
  9. Catch run off with a rain barrel.
  10. Head out onto the street and find your nearest storm drains - make sure they are all clear of debris.

Inside Your Home
  1. Just in case, move any valuable belongings out of the basement, place valuables into plastic seal-able bins or make sure that everything is at least 1 foot off the floor.
  2. Check on the floor drains in your basement - make sure they are unobstructed and working properly.
  3. If you live in an area that is susceptible to sewer backups then make sure you have a back-flow valve installed.
  4. Protect your furnace - get it raised at least 12” off the ground.
  5. Install leak sensors.
  6. Seal any cracks in your basement windows.
  7. Minimize home water use when there are large storms.
Spring home maintenance is very important. It's the time of year that you'll catch little, but important items that could cost you thousands down the road.  If you want a professional home maintenance inspection done on your home - Call Inspect it All! We offer a full Home Maintenance Inspection and provide you with a detailed report. Peace of mind is invaluable. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

5 Home Improvements to Improve Your Health

On average, you spend ⅓ of your life sleeping. That means more than ⅓ of your life is spent in your home. For the health of you and your family, you should consider your home a sanctuary. There are small things you can regularly do that will help to keep you healthy - especially as cold season approaches.

Get rid of the allergens, dust, and mold in your house today to keep you and your family healthy throughout flu season. Additionally - keeping your home clean and clutter-free will help you mentally attack the upcoming busy holiday season. Everyone talks about spring cleaning, but all year round cleaning is equally important.

Here are the 5 places you should start cleaning today for a happy, healthy family:

1. Duct Cleaning

Cleaning out your ducts won’t necessarily improve the dust situation in your house, unless you’ve just done a renovation or you’ve built a new house. But it will improve energy efficiency, improve air quality in certain circumstances, and will improve air flow throughout your home - making it more comfortable.

If you live in an old house, there’s a very good possibility that you have mice. For anyone living in an old house - this is often just a fact of life. These mice and vermin are probably in your ducts and removing their feces will improve air quality in your home.

If you have mold in your ducts, you’ll definitely want to get them cleaned as soon as possible. If the situation is bad, you might actually consider cutting out the affected area and replace it.

Your duct cleaning should be done by an HVAC specialist.

2. Junk Removal

Clearing the clutter from your home is great for your mental health. All that piled up junk can easily make you feel overwhelmed. All that clutter can be causing you to be less productive, irritable, and easily distracted.

Go through your house room by room and remove anything that you and your family aren’t using. Donate what you can, and if there’s a lot left over - get rid of it. 

If you’re tackling a big area, like a cluttered basement - consider getting a dumpster delivered to your house for a week while you go through it all.

And of course, all of that clutter in your home is collecting dust. Get rid of the stuff that isn’t being used to decrease the dust and allergens in your home so you can breathe easier physically and mentally.

3. Carpet Cleaning

After the summer season of kids running around on your carpet, tracking in who knows what from outside - it’s probably a good idea to give your carpets a thorough clean.

Cleaning your carpets regularly removes the embedded dust and allergens that aren’t removed with a simple vacuum. Additionally, each time you spill something on your carpet - even if you immediately clean it up, mold and grime can start to build up that is not great for your health. Especially if you have small children who are crawling around the carpet - it’s best to clean them approximately once a year.

Not only will following these tips be great for the health of you and your family - it will also make your carpets last much longer. A well cared for carpet should last (nearly) a lifetime.

Most carpet cleaning professionals can also clean upholstery. While you're at it - give your most used furniture a thorough clean - you'll experience the same benefits.

4. Clean Out Your Fridge, Cupboards, & Dishwasher

Your fridge works hard. It’s always on and it’s keeping your food safe for you and your family to eat. It deserves to be treated well for all the work it does.

So clean it out. Like really clean it out. Take everything out, throw out the things that are questionably old, take out the drawers and shelves and give them a good cleaning.

You eat the food that goes into your fridge. I know you wash your produce before you eat it or feed it to your family, but a clean fridge is imperative for a healthy life. There’s old, moldy stuff in there and it has to go.

Of course, this also helps with the mental decluttering. If every time you open your fridge to see a nicely organized area of your home - it will help you mentally.

This is a great time to clean out your cupboards as well. Remove everything, throw out the food that has expired, or that you can’t remember purchasing or what it was for. Then wipe down all the shelves and food containers you put back in the cupboard. Keep an eye out for vermin feces - if you find some - you’ll need to check all of your packaging for bite marks. Toss anything that has bite marks and head to the store to buy some traps immediately.

While you’re at it - clean and deodorize your dishwasher! Put a cup of vinegar on the top shelf of an empty dishwasher and run a full setting on hot. Then put some baking soda on the bottom of the washer and run a half cycle on hot. Then just leave it open to dry for a few hours.

5. Check for Leaky Pipes, Faucets, and Appliances

Check your kitchen and bathroom pipes for leaks. These leaks, if left unattended can seep into your floors and cause mold that you and your family will breathe in. Additionally, now’s a great time to fix any leaky faucets in your home. Leaky faucets get mildew buildup and are incredibly wasteful.

While you’re going through the rooms in your house - why not take a look at your washer, dishwasher, toilets, and fridge. Look underneath them after they run, make sure there’s no evidence of leaks.

To test your toilet for a leak - put a drop of food colouring in the tank - if it shows up in the bowl a few minutes later without you touching the toilet - you may have a leak. Make sure to flush the toilet right after this test so that the food colouring doesn’t stain the bowl or tank.

Contact a plumber to fix any of these leaks. They are very skilled in these types of (probably) routine fixes and therefore it shouldn’t take them too long.

The 10 Hidden Dangers in Our Homes

Hazardous chemicals can be found in a variety of environments, even within the safety of a home. Over the years, these “hidden” substances can affect the occupants’ health in several ways. Below is a list of some of the most notable of these dangers, including tips on how to prevent them:

1. Lead causes serious health issues and can often be found in lead-based paints (in older homes), soil, dust and tap water (if the home has lead pipes). The members of a family should be tested for lead levels, and, in the case of older homes, hiring a certified contractor to remove lead paint is recommended.

2. Mould exposure is especially harmful to those with respiratory diseases. Mould grows in damp areas with poor ventilation. A professional company, such as Inspect it All can be hired to check the levels and type of mould in your home and recommend next steps to remove it.

3. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas released from burning organic fuel in wood stoves, fireplaces, gas heaters and other heating devices. Proper ventilation is imperative to prevent CO contamination. Homes should include a CO detector and a professional should be hired to service furnaces.

4. Pesticides contain toxins that account for most childhood poisonings. Pesticides must always be stored in a locked cabinet and away from children. Those who handle pesticides should follow the instructions on the label and must wash their hands after each use.

5. Salmonella and E. Coli are bacteria transmitted through contaminated raw foods like meat and vegetables. These foods should be kept separate in the refrigerator and all meats must be cooked to safe temperatures. After cooking, the dishes that were in contact with raw meat need to be thoroughly washed.

6. Air fresheners contain Phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), substances linked to various health problems. It is recommended to replace commercial air fresheners with filter-based air purifiers.

7. Radon is a carcinogenic gas that seeps in through the soil and rocks under a house. Homes must be tested for Radon with a specialized monitoring device. A radon-abatement specialist should be hired, if the Radon level is above normal (2 to 4 picocuries per liter).

8. Aerosol sprays carry harmful gasses that trigger asthma and allergies. It’s recommended to protect the mouth and eyes when using sprays. Pump products are good replacements for hair sprays.

9. Plastics in toys or household products often contain BPA (Bisphenol A), Phthalates and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). When buying plastic products, the recycling symbols with the 1, 2, 4 and 5 numbers should be chosen, whenever possible.

10. Tap water may contain contaminants such as radioactive substances and industrial waste. To eliminate toxins from tap water, use a water purifier.

Awareness of these hidden dangers is only the first step. We must reduce or eliminate these harmful substances from our homes by taking action immediately.