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Benefits of Heat Drying

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Newman Restoration is always looking to find the least intrusive ways to repair water damage in your home. This week, Le-Squeegee is highlighting some of the benefits of using heat drying when the conditions are correct.

1. Less Invasive Approach – Working with heat drying equipment can allow for more building materials to dry in place. The technology encourages heat to penetrate the building materials and eliminate moisture in interior walls. It is a powerful tool in returning a home to pre-loss condition after water damage.
2. Reduce Costly Buildback – The less invasive approach afforded by heat drying equipment saves on the overall cost of buildback after water enters a home. With fewer materials removed, less time and effort needs to go into returning a home to normal.
3. Quicker Drying Times – When heat drying equipment is utilized correctly, it can dry building materials faster when compared to conventional water restoration practices.
4. Reduced Chance of Microbial Growth – The faster water damage can be remediated, the fewer opportunities there are for microbial growth. Responding to water damage quickly and efficiently is the best way to minimize the chance of microbial growth occurring.

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Cleaning Resolutions for the New Year

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Le-Squeegee has a new blog this Friday with a few ideas for some cleaning resolutions for the New Year. So follow along and get some ideas for how to keep your home clean in 2023.

Create a cleaning schedule and stick to it! – From helpful apps to a physical calendar, a cleaning schedule can keep you on track! Some calendars can help you stay organized with daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annually and annual tasks. Or you can dedicate specific times of the week to clean areas of your house.

Plan yearly cleanings of any chimneys and dryer vents – A yearly chimney sweep and dryer vent cleaning is recommended to reduce the chance of a house fire. They also increase the efficiency of your dryer and help a fireplace or stove exhaust properly.

Plan regular professional cleanings of carpets and rugs – The IICRC recommends a normal cleaning cycle of 1-2 times a year. Special conditions may call for more frequent cleanings. Consistently clean carpet helps with health problems and illnesses as well as protects the longevity and life of the carpet itself.

Replace your furnace filter and check last air duct cleaning – Having a clean furnace filter is important for indoor air quality. If it has been more than three years since your last air duct cleaning, it is something you should do in 2023. An air duct cleaning has major benefits for indoor air quality.

Deep clean major appliances – inside, outside and underneath – The new year is a great time for a reset on your major appliances. Clean out the fridge and get rid of all unwanted leftovers and expired food. Did your oven get a workout from all the holiday cooking? Well now is a great time for a deep clean. If possible, slide out your oven and clean whatever has dropped underneath.

A break from the snow? Well use that time to clean up your yard – Le-Squeegee does not like having to go through his yard after the snow melts and clean up after his dogs. So whenever there is a break from the snow buildup, take the time to clean up after your pets so you do not have a huge job waiting for you in the spring.

Happy New Year from Team Newman!

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Holiday Cleaning Tips!

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The holiday season is upon us and Team Newman has a few tips to be prepared and clean during your holiday celebrations.

Be stocked on cleaning supplies – Nothing is worse than getting into the cleaning rhythm and running out of an important supply. This can diminish your cleaning motivation and take up a lot of time to run to the store! Be stocked up so there are no bumps in the road.

Set out extra trash cans – If you are having a gathering for the holidays and want cleanup to be easier, set out a few extra trash receptacles. When people have an easy way to tidy up they are more likely to do it! Most of us keep our trash in or around the kitchen and that can be a busy place. Put a trash receptacle out where people are congregating and make it easy for them to throw stuff away!

Empty out your fridge to make room for ingredients and leftovers – It is best to get rid of the expired items before you go grocery shopping. When you come home you do not have to negotiate a packed fridge and you can easily find space for the important stuff. It is also nice to have some room for leftovers from the holiday party.

Remove the clutter – Often the easiest way to make a space look cleaner is to remove the clutter. Take those items you will not be using off the kitchen counter. Tidy up the spaces your guests will occupy, and it can make a major improvement in a short amount of time.

Make sure the small things are easily accessible – If you are having guests over, keep some spare paper towels laying around so a mess can be cleaned up easily. Keep coasters in plain sight so people will use them.

Have the bathroom fully stocked – This area will experience more traffic with the holiday season. Be sure to have plenty of hand soap and toilet paper. Nothing is worse than going to the restroom and being without a square to spare.

Make sure guests follow your rules! And give them some hints – If you would like guests to remove their shoes upon entering your home, have a place for them to put their shoes. Make it easy for people to follow the rules that will help you keep a clean home. It is also nice to have a space where guests can store their winter jackets.

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Winter Vacation Checklist – How to Prepare Your Home to be Vacant During the Winter

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Planning on leaving town this winter? Newman Restoration has a few hints to help make sure your home avoids serious damage while you are away.

Do not turn off your heating system or lower the thermostat below 60 – Turning off the heat or setting the thermostat too low can make a home vulnerable to frozen pipes. Newman Restoration recommends keeping the thermostat set above 60 degrees and keeping all areas of the home warm. Water pipes run through the wall cavities, which can be much colder than the interior of the home. If the temperature drops too low, pipes near the exterior of the home become vulnerable.

Consider turning off the water main and draining pipes – If you are planning on being away from your home for an extended period of time, it can be a good idea to turn off the water and drain pipes. If you do not feel comfortable taking these steps, contact a plumber and have them do it for you.

Ask a neighbor or family member to stop by and check on the home – It is a good idea to have someone you trust check on the house every few days. They can ensure the heat is on and still working.

Protect your home from intruders – Double check all doors and windows are locked before you leave. Double-check dog doors and sliding doors, as these are the doors most often left unlocked. Close the fireplace flue to prevent critters from using the chimney to enter your home.

Clean out gutters and remove overhanging branches – Protect your home from storm damage by ensuring gutters are free of debris and can work properly. If possible, remove overhanging branches which can damage a home during a storm.

Tidy up inside – Nobody wants to come home from vacation and find that pests have been snacking on trash or any food left out. Please make sure to clean up before you leave!

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Understanding Microbial Growth in Your Home

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One of the most common questions asked of a professional restoration company is, “do I have mold in my home?” It is a common concern for many homeowners, however the answer to the question is not always easy.

At Newman Restoration, we typically do not use the word mold, but instead refer to it as microbial growth. There are many varieties of spores and growths which can occur in a home, and they cannot be accurately diagnosed with a visual inspection. To properly diagnose microbial growth, samples must be collected by an industrial hygienist and analyzed in a certified lab.

Microbial growth needs a food source, time and the proper atmospheric conditions to grow in a home. The food source is often drywall or wood and with the proper atmospheric conditions it can begin to develop in 24 to 48 hours. Microbial growth also requires moisture to allow it to grow. This water source can be from a variety of factors inside a home.

A flood or slow leak are the most common sources of moisture which allow for microbial growth. A flood from a burst pipe or external water source can develop an issue quickly if the water is not removed. A slow leak from a sink, dishwasher or toilet can allow for microbial growth over time. High levels of humidity are another possible source of moisture. Elevated humidity in a crawl space or attic can develop condensation and allow for microbial growth.

Preventative measures are necessary to avoid microbial growth. Check faucets, toilets and appliances for leaks and get them fixed right away if any leak is detected. Regularly inspect crawl spaces and attics for elevated humidity. If you do have a flood in your home, have the water extracted and necessary demolition and dry-out completed.

There are a few physical signs of microbial growth which require immediate attention. If a home is starting to develop a stale or mildew type smell, it can be a sign of microbial growth occurring. Microbial growth can develop inside a wall cavity or underneath flooring and the first sign may be an odd odor. Visual signs of microbial growth will also occur. Stringy or fuzzy patches of growth can appear on building materials. These growths can be a variety of different colors, from black, brown and gray to yellow, pink and green. Any of these signs should be addressed immediately.

It is important for microbial growth to be addressed correctly. It is very easy to spread spores and contaminate other areas of the home. Proper personal protective equipment must be utilized to keep workers safe when they are removing microbial growth. A professional remediation company will set air containment chambers and use specialized equipment to protect themselves and prevent cross contamination. Depending on the severity of microbial growth, building materials may need to be removed and replaced.

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Winter Crawl Space Issues

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The crawl space is an easy place to ignore, however it is an important area to check and maintain. Crawl space issues can develop over a long period of time or in an instant, both leading to costly repairs. Team Newman has a few suggestions on what to look for and prevent major issues.

Be Wary of Elevated Moisture in a Crawl Space – Standing water and high humidity can create lasting damage in a crawl space. Humidity levels over 60 percent can allow for microbial growth and rot structural materials. A damaged or missing vapor barrier can allow for elevated levels of moisture in a crawl space because of ground water penetration. There is a wide range of possible solutions for elevated moisture in a crawl space. It can be as simple as installing a vapor barrier or managing air exchanges. It can also be as complicated as installing a system of sump pumps to control rising ground water.

Winter Water Intrusions Need To Be Monitored – Snowmelt and ground saturation can be an issue for a crawl space. Imperfections in a foundation allow for water to enter a crawl space. As foundations shift, settle and deteriorate, waterproofing and structural measures are often required to prevent water instructions. Cracks can develop in the foundation and become an easy water penetration point. Foundation cracks should be sealed to prevent water from settling in a crawlspace.

Check Crawl Space For Damaged Vapor Barrier or Missing Insulation – Damaged or missing vapor barriers lead to eventual moisture issues. It is also important to inspect a crawl space for missing insulation. A lack of insulation leads to issues with frozen pipes and makes heating a home less efficient. If there is an issue with keeping a crawl space warm, investing in pipe wrap is a good start to preventing frozen pipes.

Rodents Are Another Potential Hazard – Rodents can take shelter in a crawl space during the winter. It is common to find them living in the insulation. Rodent feces can create an unhealthy environment in the crawl space. If they are detected in the crawlspace, it is important to contact an exterminator before the problem gets worse. Areas that have been contaminated by rodents need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

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Slow Leaks Can Cause Big Problems

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Checking your home for slow leaks needs to be a part of a homeowner’s routine. This can catch water damage before it turns into a much larger issue. Slow leaks will develop microbial growth and often deteriorate building materials, resulting in significant repairs. They can also turn into sudden ruptures. Team Newman has a few recommendations for common
sources for slow leaks.

Kitchen Appliances – One of the most common sources of a slow water leak is the dishwashing machine. Water will leak and pool underneath the dishwasher and soak into the floor and nearby cabinets and drywall. In many cases, a dishwasher leak is not detected until the flooring is warping or bubbling and develops a stench. You can be proactive and check under the dishwasher after it has run and look for any water. Along with dishwashers, refrigerators and ice makers can develop slow leaks. It is imperative to check underneath them once a week to look for standing water.

Under and Around Sinks – Sinks are another common source of a slow leak. Water can drip into cabinets and vanities below sinks and will absorb water. Plumbing underneath a sink can loosen or fail over time, resulting in water damage. These areas are a common spot to find microbial growth from a slow water leak. Regularly check around and underneath sinks to detect water damage.

Toilets – The toilet supply line is another source of slow water leaks. If the plumbing into the toilet is not properly attached, water can drip onto the bathroom floor and become a source for microbial growth. This water can penetrate drywall, trim and underneath flooring. After a toilet runs, check along the supply line and ensure there is no moisture build up around the toilet. In addition to the supply line, wax rings of a toilet are another
common point of failure. Water can leak from underneath the toilet into the
flooring or ceiling below.

Exterior Walls – Snowmelt or heavy rain can enter a home near the foundation. Water will follow the path of least resistance, which can often be a foundation crack. Check the exterior walls of your home to see if any water has built up in carpets, flooring or unfinished areas of the basement. Water entering the home through the foundation can also warp
drywall and create microbial growth on trim pieces.

Ceilings and Attics – Ice dams are a common occurrence in the winter time. An ice dam can create a slow water leak into the home through the roof and into the ceiling. Regularly inspect ceilings for any signs of paint bubbles. If it is safe to do so, check the attic and see if any moisture is impacting insulation or framing materials.

Crawl Spaces – The crawl space of a home is susceptible to slow leaks and water damage. Ground water can enter a crawl space and also enter via a foundation crack. Water lines in a crawlspace are vulnerable to cracks and leaks. This can create an opportunity for microbial growth to occur. If it is safe to do so, regularly check the crawl space for water and water
damage.

Humidifiers or Water Purification Systems – These water systems, often found in the basement of a home can be a source of water damage. It is good to ensure the proper maintenance is followed for humidifiers and water purification systems. Check around these systems to ensure they are not leaking.

Concerned About Slow Leaks? – If you are concerned or your home is vulnerable to slow leaks, invest in water detection equipment. Moisture meters and thermal cameras can help detect water in building materials that is not visible to the naked eye.

Understand Your Insurance Coverage – In many policies, slow leaks will not be covered or may only be covered from specific sources. It is important to know where your gaps in coverage are and to increase coverage for peace of
mind.

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Beware of Frozen Pipes As Temperatures Begin to Drop

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As temperatures begin to drop this Fall, it is time to start thinking about the dangers of frozen pipes.

Where Are Pipes Most Likely to Freeze – Some pipes are more vulnerable than others. Pipes running near exterior walls are most susceptible to freezing. Pipes in the crawlspace are also vulnerable to freezing if they are not properly insulated. Whichever areas of the home are the coldest or most difficult to heat are going to be the first to freeze. These areas should be checked daily to catch water damage before it develops into a larger issue.

Signs of a Frozen Pipe – Water flowing suddenly from pipes or barely trickling out can be a sign of freezing. Excess moisture or a very cold tap is another indication. A frozen pipe may also be bulged out around where the water has frozen. It is possible to unfreeze a frozen pipe, but you should only attempt to do so with the water turned off. Some common home remedies are to use a hairdryer or wrap the pipes with warm towels. Team Newman suggests using a trusted plumber to unfreeze any pipes and offer solutions to prevent freezing in the future.

Protect Vulnerable Areas – Adding insulation, pipe wrap or electric tape can prevent pipes from freezing. Eliminating the source of cold air near pipes is also important. Fixing drafts and missing insulation is crucial to protecting pipes.

Do Not Turn Off the Heat to Your Home – While it is a cost-cutting measure, turning off the heat in your home can lead to very expensive water damage. A pipe may not freeze and burst right away, but consistent freezing and thawing can develop into a sudden rupture or slow leak. Both results can develop into an expensive remediation bill. If the temperature inside a home is in the fifties, exterior wall cavities can easily drop to below freezing. Keep the thermostat above 60 degrees to protect against water damage. If you are going to leave a property unattended, it is recommended to have a plumber winterize the pipes. This step is expensive, but is often less than the deductible for a water damage claim.

Perform a Structure Walkthrough – It is a good idea to inspect all the living spaces of your home daily. Look for discoloration in walls or ceilings or a musty smell. These are signs of a possible slow leak from a damaged pipe. A small leak can lead to large amounts of damage if it is undetected. It is also recommended to check crawl spaces and attics routinely, as they can also develop water damage. Look for excess moisture or elevated levels of humidity, which are often the first signs of water damage in unoccupied or unfinished spaces.

Know Where to Shut Off the Water – If a pipe does rupture, turn off the water to the home immediately. Knowing where the water shut-off valve is located is very important. It is a good practice to clearly label the valve so someone else can easily find it. These valves are most often located on the perimeter of the home in a utility space. It will be located very close to where the water enters the home from the main line. If it is difficult to find the water shut off, contact a local plumber who can help explain the system. Shutting off the water quickly can prevent additional damage.

If a pipe does burst, shut off the water and call a restoration professional. Getting a professional restoration company involved right away will help limit the damage. At Newman Restoration & Cleaning, we are prepared to respond 24/7 to stabilize any water damage that may occur from a broken pipe.

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Utilize the Hierarchy of Controls to Keep Yourself Safe at Home

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When completing a home project or remodel, safety needs to be a top priority. For most people, working safely means utilizing personal protective equipment. While using PPE is important, it is the least effective piece of the hierarchy of controls. Understanding the hierarchy of controls gives you the best chance to work as safely as possible.

 

Elimination – This sits at the top of the hierarchy of controls for a reason. Eliminating hazards is the most effective way to work safely. Elimination of hazards should be considered in the project planning stage. An example of hazard elimination is completing tasks at ground level and not on a ladder or it can be as simple as keeping a clean workplace to eliminate slips, trips, and falls.

 

Substitution – The second most effective method on the hierarchy of controls is substitution. This means replacing a hazard with something less hazardous. This can often be handled in the project planning stage. Instead of using a product that can cause skin or lung irritation, replace it with one that is less harmful.

 

Engineering Controls – If a hazard can not be eliminated on substituted, the next best way to mitigate a hazard is with engineering controls. An example of an engineering control would be installing a dust barrier and ventilation system to reduce airborne contaminants or installing guardrails when working off the ground.

 

Administrative Controls – Utilizing methods to change how people work is a simple definition of administrative controls. This often comes in the form of education or it can be as basic as clearly labeling hazardous items. Administrative controls are often implemented before a project. These controls can be effective in mitigating hazards, however, they are not as effective as substituting or eliminating hazards.

 

Personal Protective Equipment – PPE sits at the bottom of the hierarchy of controls as it is less effective compared to elimination, substitution, and engineering and administrative controls. Properly used PPE can be very effective in reducing the impact of hazards found during a home remodeling project. However, it is important to understand there are often better ways of dealing with a hazard.

 

Project Planning – Ultimately, protecting yourself from hazards in a home remodel or project comes down to planning. While it is exciting to jump into a new project, this can lead to unexpected hazards. Understanding the full scope of a project and anticipating potential problems or hazards is the best way to work safely. This allows you to utilize the hierarchy of controls and mitigate any potential dangers before they occur.

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Why You Need Personal Protective Equipment for Your Home Remodel

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Personal protective equipment (PPE) is not just for professionals or for OSHA compliance. It is a necessary part of any home remodel and something that should be understood and budgeted for in your project.

 

Respiratory Protection – There are many facets and levels of respiratory protection that need to be understood before tackling a home remodel project. These go from the most basic level of dust protection all the way to guarding against harmful carcinogens.

It is important to be aware of the possibility of asbestos-containing material during your home remodel. In addition to asbestos, lead paint can be disturbed during the demolition process. In general, drywall dust is a severe irritant and anyone around the removal of drywall should be using a respirator with a particulate filter.

Drywall dust can cause severe irritation in a short exposure window. Asbestos, lead, and mold can cause long-term illness. Make sure everyone who is around a home remodel is taking the necessary steps to prevent exposure with respiratory protection.

 

Eye Protection – According to OSHA, thousands of people are blinded by work-related injuries that could have been prevented with proper eye protection. Many home remodelers believe their prescription glasses or sunglasses can protect them from an injury but this is not true. Proper eye protection will have Z87 stamped somewhere on the frame of the lenses.

Using eye protection during a home remodel project is a must. Debris from demolition, flying debris from power tools and falling debris can all damage eyes. Most of these risks are continually present during a project, which means eye protection should be worn basically at all times.

 

Hand Protection – Cuts, punctures, and chemical burns are all possible hazards of a home improvement project. The area of your body most susceptible to these injuries is your hands. It is important to handle each risk with the appropriate type of hand protection.

Are you planning on using chemicals to clean or strip paint during your home improvement project? If so, chemical-resistant rubber or latex gloves must be used to prevent burns or irritation on the skin.

In addition to possible chemical irritants, cuts and punctures are a major concern. A pair of cut-proof gloves are necessary for almost all home improvement projects.

Another aspect of hand protection is for the glove to fit properly. Loose-fitting gloves and clothing pose a significant risk. Loose material can get stuck in power tools and cause serious damage to the user.

 

Understanding the Hierarchy of Controls – While PPE is necessary for home remodeling work, it is important to understand where it sits on the hierarchy of controls. PPE is at the bottom and is the least effective part of the hierarchy of controls.

Reliance on PPE can make work more dangerous. Before starting a hazardous task, be sure to think about these questions. Is there a way the hazard can be eliminated? Is there a way to substitute for the hazard? Can you isolate yourself away from the hazard? Is there a way to change how people are working to avoid the hazard? The answers to these questions can drastically reduce the chance of a specific hazard harming a worker or homeowner.

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