Your home's gutters help catch rainfall and ensure that it stays far away from the foundation of your home. However, they can't effectively perform their job if they're clogged with ice or debris that piled up over the course of the seasons. Clean gutters by spraying a hose through them from the bottom up. You can also use a trowel to scoop out anything that's clogging your gutters, or purchase a cleaning tool specifically designed for your gutters and attach it to your hose.
Before the rainy season begins, it's crucial that you check your home for signs of leakage. It's best to fix a leak early on, as leaving it to worsen could result in flooding, mold and mildew, and even collapsed ceilings. Scan your ceilings for water marks and look for peeling paint. You should also venture outside of your home and look at your roof for telltale signs. Check out the ridges and see if there are any cracks. Look for loose, curled or missing shingles, which can signal roof damage and allow water to enter the home.
Sick Building: Fungi Release Toxin Directly Into The Air
Sick Building: Fungi Release Toxin Directly Into Air, Study Finds
by MAGGIE FOX
Toxins from mold can aerosolize directly into the air, which may help explain one cause of sick building syndrome, French researchers said Friday.
Mold growing in buildings can make people sick, especially people who are allergic to various fungi. It’s also known that various molds and fungi produce mycotoxins — chemicals that can sicken and even kill people and animals.
What’s not been entirely clear is how mold growing in and on walls or elsewhere in buildings might make people sick.
Jean-Denis Bailly of the University of Toulouse in France and colleagues tested three common types of fungi that can grow inside buildings and found that their mycotoxins could and did disperse into the air until normal conditions.
“These toxins can subsequently be aerosolized, at least partly, from moldy material,” they wrote in their report in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, published by the American Society for Microbiology.
“This transfer to air requires air velocities that can be encountered in ‘real life conditions’ in buildings.
The three species they tested were Penicillium brevicompactum, Aspergillus versicolor and Stachybotrys chartarum, all of which grew on wallpaper in their lab.
“It is estimated that, in Northern Europe and North America, 20 percent to 40 percent of buildings display macroscopically visible (visible to the eye) fungal growth,” they wrote.
“For instance, Aspergillus versicolor, a potent producer of sterigmatocystin (STG), is one of the most frequent fungal contaminant of indoor environments that can be found together on building materials, in dust or in the air samples.”
Mold growth and the circulation of particles that carry their toxins.
Researchers Find Mold Toxins Can Easily Become Airborne Indoors
This could be making people sick.
MIKE MCRAE As if a sensitivity to their spores wasn't enough of a problem for some people, new research has found the toxins produced by mold sprouting in the damp corners of your house can also become airborne.
The discovery could help explain what is referred to as "sick building syndrome", a broad collection of symptoms that appear to increase in severity the longer a person occupies a room or building.
A team of French researchers has found evidence that particles shed by several species of fungi (that we'd commonly think of as mold) can contain chemicals called mycotoxins, and that the toxins themselves can also become airborne.
For people with asthma and other allergies, the mold particles themselves can be a nightmare, inflaming the lungs and sinuses and causing anything from sneezing and itchy eyes to restricted airways and asthma attacks.
Usually, mycotoxins are substances we'd associate with food contamination as they leach out of fungi growing on fruit or grains. Nobody is sure why fungi produce them, but consumed in high enough concentrations they can be deadly.
While their effects on the body after being ingested have been studied extensively, less is known about the effect of breathing in mycotoxins, or whether it's even something to consider as a potential health concern for most of us.
Of the little data that does exist, most research has focused on the kinds of fungi found in agriculture. These numbers have contributed to what's called a concentration of no toxicologic concern (CoNTC), which is 30 nanograms per cubic metre for agricultural mycotoxins.
Based on this, there's little evidence that airborne mycotoxins can reach high enough concentrations to cause health problems for most of us.
But indoor environments could be different, and mycotoxins just might be playing a role in making those of us who spend a lot of times indoors sick.
The study involved controlling the air movements around a piece of wallpaper that had been contaminated with the different moulds.
The researchers then analysed the air that came off the wallpaper.
Each species of fungus shed particles at different air speeds, most probably due to their unique structures and spore arrangements.
"Most of the airborne toxins are likely to be located on fungal spores, but we also demonstrated that part of the toxic load was found on very small particles – dust or tiny fragments of wallpaper, that could be easily inhaled," says Bailly.
The fact that there are levels of mycotoxin that can be inhaled on particles smaller than spores, and that these particles can become airborne at the low wind speeds you'd find in most indoor environments, are factors that could be taken into consideration when evaluating limits of toxicity.
"The presence of mycotoxins in indoors should be taken into consideration as an important parameter of air quality," says Bailly.
The research doesn't come to any conclusions on what kinds of concentrations are commonly found in our homes and offices, or how these might compare with agricultural limits.
THE RIGHT (AND WRONG) WAY TO CLEAN YOUR WASHING MACHINE
As much as we hate doing laundry, most of us can’t imagine life without a washing machine. These trusty machines are there for us through minor stains and major ones — food spills, sweaty socks, and even the most disgusting stains we get on our clothes. But like everything else in our homes, even our washing machines get dirty. Really dirty.
Have you ever noticed that gunk that builds up around the washing machine door jam? What about the grains of dirt and sand that accumulate inside of the machine’s drum? Let’s not forget to mention the bacteria you can’t see with your naked eye, like mold and mildew. When you have dirt and grime inside of your washing machine, this can impact your machine’s performance, and the cleanliness of your clothes. It’s time you washed your washer.
To avoid damaging your washer or your clothing, you need to maintain and care for your machine properly — and that’s true whether it’s brand new and beautiful or the reliable one you’ve had for years. We’ve put together some tips on how to correctly clean your washing machine, as well as some washer-cleaning methods to avoid. Here are the right (and wrong) ways to clean your washing machine.
HOW TO CLEAN A TOP-LOAD WASHER
Step 1: Leave the door open after you remove your clothes, and allow your washer to dry out completely when you’re not using it. This helps prevent mold and mildew from growing in your washing machine.
Step 2: Use a damp cloth and a small amount of liquid detergent to wipe the inside of your machine.
Step 3: Wipe up any dirt, spills, and grime from your machine’s exterior and from the door jam with a damp cloth and mild soap.
Step 4: Change the fill hoses on your machine every five years, per the recommendation of GE. It’s a good idea to label your fill hoses, indicating the date you replaced them. Just label some masking tap with a Sharpie.
Tips: We asked GE for suggestions on how to clean top-load washing machines properly. The appliance company suggested we use Tide Washing Machine Cleaner once a month to clean and freshen the unit, and to refer to the washing machine’s owner’s manual for additional cleaning and maintenance instructions.
What not to do: It’s best to avoid using harsh cleaners, notably those that contain ammonia. You should also shy away from anything that’s too abrasive, like gritty cleaners or Brillo pads. Harsh cleaners can damage you machine.
HOW TO CLEAN A FRONT-LOAD/HE WASHER
Step 1: Leave the door ajar after you remove your clothes with a front-load washer as well, and allow it to dry out completely when you’re not using it. This helps prevent mold and mildew from growing.
Step 2: Clean the washer door by wiping it down with a damp cloth.
Step 3: Clean the door seal. Gently pull back the seal between the door opening and the drum, and check for foreign objects; remove any you find. After that, check for stains or dirt buildup. Clean dirt buildup using either washing machine cleaning wipes, Finally, allow the washer to air dry completely with the door open.
Step 4: Clean and sanitize your detergent tray. Take the tray apart (if applicable) and soak it in hot water and mild soap for about 20 minutes.
Step 5: Clean the inside of the washing machine. Most HE washers have either a “clean cycle” or a “clean with Affresh cycle.” To run a clean cycle, add ¼ cup of Benifect to the bleach dispenser and run an empty load.
Tips: It’s best to use HE detergent when you have an HE washer, and to avoid using too much detergent, as this can cause excess buildup. Lastly, use warm and hot water washes periodically (but not all of the time), as warmer water can help control soil and detergent buildup, per the recommendation of Maytag.
What not to do: Some HE washer owners run a clean cycle only, and neglect the other steps. You should try to clean your HE washing machine every 30 wash cycles, and follow all of the steps to make sure you are not allowing dirt and grime to accumulate in other parts of your machine.
HOW TO CLEAN A SELF CLEAN OR SMART WASHING MACHINE
Step 1: Clean the control panel with a damp cloth.
Step 2: Clean the mesh filter of the water hose once or twice a year. To do so, soak the filter in water until it is clean (make sure the threaded connector is also submerged). Then allow the filter to dry completely in a shaded area.
Step 3: Clean the dispensers. Rinse the inserts in warm water to remove traces of accumulated detergent and other laundry products. Then clean the recess with a toothbrush to remove residue.
Step 4: Clean the interior: You can wipe it with a damp cloth and a washer-safe cleaner. Also, run the self-clean cycle when the indicator light comes on. Self-clean helps get rid of mold that grows inside of your washing machine.
Notes: These instructions are for a Samsung top-load self-clean washing machine. Your machine may have different parts and cleaning instructions. It’s best to refer to your owner’s manual to obtain the specific cleaning instructions for your washing machine. If you misplaced your owner’s manual, you can likely locate it online by visiting the manufacturer’s website and searching for it using your model and serial number.
Tips: Clean the outside of stainless steel machines using stainless steel cleaner, vinegar, or Windex. When you clean stainless steel, it’s best to go with the grain. You can also use a little bit of rubbing alcohol to dissolve oily finger prints, per Better Homes and Gardens. Also, if you have a shiny metallic finish on your washer’s exterior door, you can clean that surface using a small amount of Cerama Bryte and a clean, damp, non-abrasive cloth, per the recommendation of Samsung.
What not to do: Do not use harsh or abrasive cleaners when cleaning the control panel, and avoid using bleach cleaners on stainless steel surfaces. Also, do not run self-clean cycles while you have laundry in your machine.
Ask Angie's List: Can you get rid of home pests with essential oils?BY PAUL POGUE, ANGIE'S LIST Angie's List
Sometimes the most natural methods work best. You can get rid of mice using a reliable old snap-trap, and nothing takes out spiders like a rolled-up newspaper. But if you want to get rid of spiders and mice with minimal force, essential oils may be the solution for you.
Peppermint oil pest control is an effective means of repelling spiders and mice. Spiders smell through their legs, and so they're very sensitive to oils on the surface. Mice rely on their sense of smell, so they tend to be turned away from distinct essential oil odors. Mice tend to follow pheromone trails left by other mice, and peppermint oil confuses those senses.
As a bonus, essential oils are environmentally friendly and safe for your family and pets compared to toxic chemicals.
HOW TO PREPARE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR PEST CONTROL
You have three options for setting up essential oils to repel mice and spiders: sprinkling it directly, spraying it or soaking cotton balls.
If you know where pests are coming in, or have a suspicion – such as crevices, cracks, windows, and other hiding places – you can apply a line of undiluted oil across that entrance point. You can also create a diluted mix of water and a small amount of peppermint oil and spray it across a wider area. This is particularly useful if you're not sure where they're getting in and want to cover an entire corner or window.
You can also soak cotton balls in undiluted oil and place them near the entrances you want to block.
PEPPERMINT OIL: SPIDERS
Peppermint is the most effective oil to repel spiders. Besides peppermint and spearmint, essential oils for spiders include citrus elements like orange, lemon and lime. Citronella, cedar wood, tea tree oil and lavender can also be effective.
However, consider whether you want to get rid of spiders at all. You obviously want venomous spiders to be far away, but in many cases, especially if they're outside windows or doors, spiders are effective pest control all their own! There is no better natural insect exterminator than the spider, and no more potent bug repellent than a spider's web.
PEPPERMINT OIL: MICE
As with spiders, peppermint oil is an effective deterrent, but you need to keep several drawbacks in mind. Essential oil is not a long-lasting product; it will need to be replaced every few days. And especially in the case of mice, you want to check those peppermint-soaked cotton balls every so often. Once the odor fades away, that cotton will make attractive nesting material for the mice.
You want to make sure you place the essential oils right where mice are entering, rather than where they're already getting in.
Generally, you want to combine peppermint oil pest control with other measures. For mice, plugging up holes with steel wool tends to keep them out, since they have a hard time chewing through it.
Peppermint oil pest control may seem like a low-impact and simple approach, but it can be very effective. If you place the oils correctly, they should act as a virtual force field, telling pests in no uncertain terms to go the other way.
Paul Pogue is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.
Real confidence is built through hard work and excellent habits
Although the two often get confused, people with narcissistic tendencies need everyone to think that they're special. They have a need for admiration and a sense of entitlement that's rooted in deep-seated insecurities. Authentic confidence has nothing to do with selfishness or needing approval from others.
People who are confident don't need anyone else to see their poise, because they don't care. They know which direction is north and they trust in their ability to navigate. No matter what obstacles are thrown their way, they have faith in the process, and believe they will make it to their destination. That conviction, paradoxically, attracts others, because it makes everyone feel more confident in themselves.
Unfortunately, real confidence--something we all want--takes effort to attain. You can't just buy new clothes and expect that to sustain your self-assurance through the ups and downs of life. You need to practice the self-development exercises that help you build the unwavering self-trust you desire.
The list below are 13 habits you need to immediately give up if you want astonishing confidence.
1. Engaging in negative self-talk.
Sure, at one point in your life that mean inner coach motivated you. But now, it's holding you back and lowering your self-esteem.
2. Caring too much about what other people think.
Seeking approval from other people reinforces the idea that you need external validation. The fact is that you have insufficient internal love. To build yourself up, stop trying to meet other people's expectations, and start appreciating yourself.
3. Wasting time on activities, like Netflix, that don't bring value.
To build confidence, you need to develop a sense of pride in your competence. Invest in yourself rather than indulging in temporary escapes.
4. Seeing only shortcomings rather than opportunities for growth.
Focusing on limitations only builds their strength. Reframe all shortcomings as areas for growth, and then start taking action to create meaningful progress.
5. Filling your life with screens and stimulation rather than quiet introspection.
Stop overstimulating your brain by staring at screens all day. All brilliant minds read and reflect--it's time for you to build a foundation for success and confidence instead of binging on superficial entertainment.
6. Constantly reliving the past.
No matter how good or how bad things in the past were, they've already happened. Bring your attention to the present moment and start building a better future.
7. Anxiously anticipating the future.
The only way to create the future you want is to be effective in the now. Fantasies about the future don't matter unless you're active in this moment.
8. Asking others for their opinion before formulating your own.
Become the expert of your experience. Take your own stance and then seek out alternative perspectives with openness to new information instead of always putting yourself in a passive role.
9. Focusing too much on the details and not reflecting enough on the big picture.
Find a balanced perspective so you can be involved in your current work, know where it's going, and see how far you've come.
10. Looking to external objects--people or things--to alleviate internal wounds.
People with real confidence are aware of their emotional pain, and they actively address it in therapy or coaching so they don't get caught in defense mechanisms and temporary pleasures that don't address the underlying problem.
11. Stressing over small problems that don't really matter.
Stop creating problems and building unnecessary stress. It only drains you of valuable energy that you could be investing in your personal and professional growth.
12. Thinking about faults, regrets, and failures instead of practicing gratitude.
Most people aren't exactly who they want to be. The people who are happy and confident are the ones who appreciate what they have right now, which allows them to continue growing and building a satisfying life.
13. Wasting time comparing yourself with others.
Get off Instagram--there's no point in envying other people when you could be discovering your own value. The world has plenty of opportunity to go around, and the more effort that you put into refining your skills, the more confident you'll become, and the better life you'll live.
Last year, my HVAC system developed a leak in its drain pan. After spending many hours cleaning up the thoroughly soaked carpet in both a walk-in closet and an adjoining bedroom, I spent many additional hours attempting to fix the leaky drain pain. It turns out I’m not much of an HVAC repair technician, because two weeks later, the pan leaked again. This time, however, I was alerted to the impending soggy carpets (and another day of using the carpet steam cleaner) by the incessant (but, ultimately, pleasant) beeping of the Fibaro Flood Sensor I’d installed after the initial deluge. If the water leak had been from my water heater in the laundry room or kitchen sink, for example, there would likely have been much more water damage done by the time I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the beeping. That’s the beauty of having a water main shut-off valve installed and connected, at the very least, to a water sensor—or a more involved home automation system. The problem is, however, I’m definitely not a reliable plumber (although I have been known to sport a plumber’s butt now and then)—and nearly all of the automated water main shut-off valves available today require the knowledge, tools, and talents of a good professional plumber to install. With the exception of Dome’s Z-Wave-enabled Water Main Shut-Off Valve, that is.
The concept behind Dome’s Shut-Off Valve is about as simple as it gets: it’s a motorized “arm” that is attached to the manual shut-off valve you already have. When a connected water leak sensor (from Dome or in conjunction with another company’s smart home system) detects water where it’s not supposed to be, the Shut-Off Valve automatically turns the handle on the existing valve, immediately shutting off the source of water to the leak.
Here are the basic features that make the Dome Shut-Off Valve such an affordable, must-have device to install in your home. First of all, there are no tools nor plumber required, and it installs on any existing 1/4-turn ball valve in a matter of minutes on pipe sizes between 1/2-inch and 1.5-inches thanks to “self-aligning technology”. It includes a built-in temperature sensor that automatically shuts off the water when the ambient temperature falls too low. Because Dome knows neither you nor I would do it, the valve does a weekly self-test of opening and closing to make ensure the valve and mechanism remains in good working condition—and is ready to operate when it needs to. (There’s even an optional backup battery available.) Finally, the Dome Shut-Off Valve has a wide variety of built-in connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Serial, and Z-Wave. As a result, Dome says it’ll work with nearly any smart home system on the market.
Dome’s Shut-Off Valve is available now for $129.99.
Molds are a common name for fungi. Molds are microscopic organisms that produce enzymes to digest organic matter and mold spores to reproduce. These organisms are part of the fungi kingdom, a realm shared with mushrooms, yeast, and mildews. In nature, molds play a key role in the decomposition of leaves, wood, and other plant debris. Molds need moisture to grow.
Should I use bleach to clean mold?
OSHA does not recommend using bleach in mold remediation. Ammonia dissolves some molds and neutralizes the mycotoxins. It is important to follow safety guidelines when using cleaners to remove molds. Consult the EPA website for proper personal safety equipment when removing mold. If mold growth is over 10 square feet, the recommendation is to contact a professional who is experienced in cleaning up mold; SERVPRO of Olympia (360)754-9689
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
There is no practical way to eliminate all molds and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
According to an EPA study, an estimated 50% of our nation’s schools have problems linked to poor indoor air quality.
If you or someone you know has a concern about the possibility of mold being present inside the home, call a certified mold professional to have the home inspected. SERVPRO of Olympia will be glad to help you with you suspected microbial growth concerns.
Material gathered by Karen Fitzgerald
SERVPRO of Olympia Inspects to Prevent and Restores to Fix Water Damage in Your Home
When You Least Expect It The Dishwasher Can Be The Cause Of A Water Damage
When you find that your residential property has incurred water damage, addressing the issue immediately is important. However, many homeowners find that they lack the knowledge and experience necessary to recognize, prevent, and effectively respond to the situation. SERVPRO of Olympia offers some helpful information and instructions found in this quick reference guide:
Sources and Areas of Water Damage Incidents
There are several common sources of water damage. One of them is the basement. Front, side, and back yards that were not graded correctly, or have suffered soil erosion, allow pooling water to gravitate and settle into building materials. This water accumulation can be from lawn irrigation water, rainwater runoff, or ice dams. Plumbing problems such as leaking or bursting pipes, from mechanical failure or frozen water expansion, can also result in water damage--drip by drip or gushers. Have SERVPRO of Olympia inspect your property for preventative measures against water intrusion. The installation of new pipes, ground drainage, and proper grading of your lawn can help prevent water damage and the need for repairs.
Other Causes of Water Damage
Other causes of water damage may include high humidity and leaky roofs. Water that accumulates in your home because of these causes can result in warped window frames, ceilings, furniture, floors, and walls. In many cases, the water can damage your personal possessions and renders some of them non-salvageable. The water can also create the ideal breeding ground for mold. SERVPRO of Olympia can extract unwanted water and humidity and also offer mold remediation services
Another source of water damage that you should be aware of includes broken hoses causing leaking appliances. These issues can lead to harmful water damage from leaking or overflowing toilets, ice makers, dishwashers, and washing machines. If a small leak goes unnoticed for an extended period, the gray water can degrade into black water, rated as Category 3 quality. This can be sewage water, chemically dangerous elements dissolved or suspended in the water, or microorganisms like E. Coli. The results can be hazardous living conditions, mold proliferation, expensive damage to personal possessions and clean up, and the erosion of your property's foundation.
The Ideal Water Damage Solution
When you realize that your residential property has suffered water damage, retaining the professional assistance of a water damage restoration franchise like SERVPRO of Olympia can mitigate costs and restoration time. Our friendly professionals possess the extensive industry experience, training, knowledge, and equipment to return your home to its preloss condition.
Locally Owned and Operated
We are proud to be an active member of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. SERVPRO of Olympia is locally owned and operated ready to help with any-sized flood and water damage emergencies. Call. (360) 754-9689 and let us inspection your water loss before you turn it into an insurance claim.