Category Archives: Home Tips

Uninvited Guests in the Attic

MousePhoto by sibya from Canva

Do you provide insulation removal services?

That’s a question we are asked quite often, and it’s usually followed by a story of how a property owner found animals in their attic. Well the answer is yes! We do! They’re not just looking a basic material removal job at that point though, they’re in need of animal damage cleaning services. Our technicians are trained and properly equipped to handle the removal of the contaminated insulation, both batt and blown-in, and the cleaning and sanitizing of any affected structure.

Why hire professions for animal damage cleaning?

First off, NEVER TOUCH ANIMAL DROPPINGS or urine affected material with bare hands! They can harbor viruses and other harmful contaminates. Animal damage projects should be handled with the upmost care, taking all necessary precautions to protect you and the rest of your home. Our technicians wear Tyvek personal protection equipment (PPE) and respirators.

Why would animal activity require immediate attention?

If they’ve gotten into the attic, they can eventually make their way into your living space too. We’ve had calls where squirrels had a field day enjoying a spacious home, making beds of what was beautiful brand-new upholstery, and where water damage was caused by mice gnawing away at flex plumbing! The longer you wait, the more damage they can cause, the more germs they can spread and the more they can multiply!

If you hear something, smell something, or see any signs that you have animals in your home or business call a pest/critter control company right away. Once the animals have been eradicated, call Whalen Restoration Services to clean things up for you!

 

Burst Pipes! Preventing, Thawing & Fixing

Brrr, what a cold snap!

Picture_Whalen Blizzard (7)

Not only is it below 32 degrees F, with the wind chill and the heavy rain yesterday we have a recipe for severe pipe freezing. You can take a few simple steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, but if it’s too late there are other steps you can take to lessen the damage they cause.

To Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • If the property is only a seasonal property used in the warmer months, winterize it when not in use.
  • If you’re going away for a few days turn the water main off and open your faucets.
  • Keep your thermostat no lower than 65 degrees F day and night. Make sure you have enough fuel for your heating system, and have the system checked annually by a licensed professional.
  • Keep all your interior doors open so warm air can easily circulate. Open doors to cabinets that have plumbing running in them.
  • Make sure any exterior walls that have plumbing in them are insulated.
  • For pipes in un-heated areas, wrap them with insulation. Self-sealing foam insulation is easy to install, comes in different sizes to suit your pipes and is very affordable! Don’t forget the corners. They make special pieces for those, or you can miter the corners of straight pieces and foam tape the joint.
  • Seal any holes to the outside of your home (like where you may have had to drill for cable wire access) with expanding foam or calking.
  • Before freezing temperatures hit, make sure to shut off exterior water supplies like outdoor spigots and showers.
  • Install frost-free spigots. After installation you should still shut off the water supply and drain them before the temperatures start to dip below freezing.
  • SMART Tip: Install water detection sensors and/or smart thermostats. Something to keep an eye on things while you can’t, and alert you if something does go wrong.

To Thaw Frozen Pipes

Maybe the cold snap came as a surprise, or maybe the heating system failed at just the wrong time. Whatever caused the pipes to freeze, there are things you can do to property thaw them and hopefully avoid any breaks.

  • If you turn on the faucet and water doesn’t flow out, the plumbing is probably frozen. Leave the faucet open.
  • If you’re not sure where the freeze is, or if you can’t get to the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
  • If you know where the freeze is and can easily access it, make sure to thaw it slowly and very carefully. Start by turning up the thermostat to increase warmth in the area.
  • SLOWLY apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe. A hair dryer would work well. You could also use a heat gun, but NEVER use an open flame device. Once the water is able to start working its way past the freeze it will help unfreeze the section. If you’re successful you should hear the water finally running out of the open faucet. Double check for any leaks!

What to do with Burst Pipes

First off, don’t panic. These things happen, and there are professionals who can help you with this exact situation.

  • Start by turning the water off at the main. If you can’t get to the main, you can call the town and request that it be shut off at the street. Assess if your heat and electricity are working (as long as you can do so safely!).
  • Call a licensed plumber to fix the broken pipe.
  • Call a property damage restoration specialist to help you with emergency mitigation services (Whalen Restoration Services to the rescue!). You’ll want the water extracted, any wet structure treated with an antimicrobial treatment, and you may need some drying equipment to run for days.
  • If the water has affected your electricity, call an electrician to get that back up and running so you can power lights and drying equipment.
  • If the water has affected your heating system (or if the system failing was what allowed the pipes to freeze) have a professional assess it and get it back up and running as soon as possible to prevent any additional damage from the cold.
  • Call your insurance company and report the claim.

Now these may not be in the exact order that you’ll need to do them, but it’s a great checklist.

Questions? Concerns? Reach out to us! We’re happy to help!

Spring Cleaning – Going Green

Signs of spring burst all around the Cape back in February. Although it may not be time to start packing away your winter clothes just yet it is a great time to start on your annual cleaning & organizing. This year why not go a little greener with it?

Spring_Flower_CleanYour Air
Nix the air fresheners and open up those windows! Toss the scented aerosols and freshen things up with fresh cut flowers instead. Forget chemicals and use mixes of baking soda and essential oils for deodorizing. Use low-VOC paints.

Your Papers
Register an address and you start getting paper solicitations and direct marketing cards. Open a line of credit and you get loads of other offers. On average the amount of paper waste we make every year adds up to over 2000 pounds! What can you you do to go green here? Of course you can recycle the paper but start lessening the amount delivered in the first place. Call the sources of all of the unwanted mail and opt out. You can also sign up for paperless billing invoices and save your receipts digitally. Not only will you be saving the environment you’ll be saving yourself the time you would normally spend filing it all away!

Your Water
Use less and keep it clean! If you’ve been putting off fixing that running toilet do it now! Check all of your faucets for drips and adjust them accordingly. A faucet that drips 1 drip per minute actually wastes up to 34 gallons a year and you’re paying for it. Consider swapping out your shower heads for low-flow models. Be conscious of how much water you’re using when you’re brushing your teeth and doing dishes (turn it off while you scrub!).

Your Stuff
Recycle and donate. Old tattered clothes can be used as rags or kept for messy projects like painting the ceiling. Donate clothes in good condition to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, church group or homeless shelter. Donate old pillows and towels to your local animal shelter. Buy a trash can that helps you sort out your plastics and bottles from your trash, and sort and recycle all of your boxes.

Your Energy
Vampires are everywhere! Think of how many things are still plugged in at your home right now. The coffee pot? TV? Phone chargers? Computer? All of these things are still slowly using electricity. Put a stake in it and unplug any electrical devices when you’re not using them. For areas with multiple devices use a power strip so you only have to pull one plug from the outlet.
Have you had a home energy assessment done yet? Mass Save offers them for Massachusetts residence. They gave homeowners all new energy efficient light bulbs and power strips for their entertainment centers (for FREE!).

Share with us how you are going green in your home!

Leave your shoes at the door

Leave your shoes at the door

Whether they’re strict about it or not we all know someone with the “no shoes in the house” rule. Although some may find that policy annoying or even sometimes odd for guests you may want to consider adopting the practice for your own home.

Shoes

I’m sure you’ve heard “a little dirt never hurt anyone”, but how about pesticides, lawn fertilizer, the flu, E. coli and C. diff? What is C. diff? It’s a dangerous bacterium that causes terrible symptoms from diarrhea and cramping to kidney failure and fatal inflammation. It’s nasty stuff but what’s even scarier is how possible it is that you’re carrying it or something similar around on your daily footwear! Something as simple as propping your feet up on the ottoman after a long day can actually be a bad idea.

Take a look at the numbers.

  • The University of Arizona shared that the bottom of shoes contain on average 421,000 different types of bacteria, 96% detected coliforms (bacteria used to indicate the sanitary quality of water and food), and 27% detected specifically E.Coli.
  • As shared by TODAY, a study by the University of Houston found that 26.4% of shoes carry that awful sounding C. diff.
  • The University of Utah’s study concluded that bacteria on your shoes are transferred into your home at a rate of 90 to 99%!

So leaving your outdoor shoes on in the house is highly likely to carry quite a bit of bacteria throughout your home where you eat, relax, breathe and sleep.  For healthy adults that may only bring a threat of being sick for a few days, but for children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems it can be extremely dangerous.

Still not sold on the daily practice of dropping you shoes at the entry mat? You can keep your home healthier by at least spraying them down with a disinfectant and then thoroughly washing your hands. It’s not as good as taking them off and spraying them down, but it’s certainly heathier than not doing either. And as Mom always said, “no shoes on the table.”

January Home Maintenance

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

Picture_Lighthouse_Snow

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

Here’s your printable January Home Maintenance Checklist