Hay Fire

Hay Fire

Hay Fire in Cornish

Hay FireA little more than a week ago, there was a hay fire in Cornish, Utah.  Although there were no injuries and the cows nearby were saved from danger, 350 tons of hay were destroyed.  How could this happen?  The answer is spontaneous combustion.

Spontaneous Combustion?

Yup.  It just goes up in a blaze of its own accord.  Well, okay, the process is a little more complicated than that.  The problem arises when the hay bale gets wet.  If the load is above 20%-25% moisture levels, and the load is large enough, heat can get trapped inside the bale.  Certain bacteria found in hay really love high temperatures, and if you create a heat trap, they start to multiply.  This causes a chemical reaction inside that can become self-sustaining.  It builds up heat until it gets too hot and bursts into flame.  Once it goes up, there’s little you can do but try to protect the surroundings, because the fire is nearly impossible to put out.

So what can you do?  Well, there are a few things.

Minimize Moisture

covered hay bale                  The key to preventing hay fires is to minimize the amount of moisture in the hay.  First, before you cut your hay, you should check the weather conditions.  Generally speaking, you want to have less than 50% humidity levels in the air when you cut and bale your hay.  Keep in mind that moisture levels go up over night, so if there’s any question, it might be worth it to delay a day or two.  Check the weather reports and schedule your work appropriately.

The way you bale the hay also matters.  When baling your hay in round shapes and stacks, you should go for the tightest possible packages.  This will help prevent rain and morning dew from penetrating the inside of the bale and creating hot pockets.  Specialized equipment can crimp or abrade the hay, which speeds up the drying process.

If possible, store your hay inside.  When storing inside, make sure you don’t have any leaking pipes nearby.  If you can’t store it inside, try to keep your bales covered with waterproof tarps.

Check the Temperature Regularly

Once you have your hay baled, be sure to check on it regularly to make sure the temperature is staying in the safe zone.  The danger begins if the inside of the hay bale reaches 150 ° Fahrenheit (65 ° Celsius).  Combustion isn’t for certain at this point, but be sure to keep checking on it to be sure.  If it hits 160° F (70° C), then you’re definitely in the danger zone and should start checking it every few hours.  If the temperature reaches 175° F (80° C), then you need to call the fire department for assistance and immediately move it away from anything that might endanger the surrounding area.  The hay may continue to rise in temperature, up as high as 212° F (100° C).  At that point, combustion is guaranteed, if it hasn’t gone up already.

Hay Fires Are Easily Preventable

By following some simple safety guidelines, it’s fairly easy to prevent hay fires.  Even if pockets of bacteria and heat get trapped in a bale, the organisms don’t always reach critical point.  Even if they rise to the brink of the danger zone, the amount of bacteria fluctuates, as does the temperature.  There may be several periods of warming and cooling in the hay without anything going wrong.  So, with some careful observation and safety procedures, you should have no problem keeping things under control.

Accidents Happen

Even though the risk is not very high and it can be prevented, accidents happen.  If a hay bale does combust, hopefully you’ve been able to move it away from other flammable materials.  Fighting a hay fire is difficult because the hot pockets inside the bale can be difficult to reach.  Call the fire department as soon as you see the problem arise.  The fire fighters will do everything they can, but you’ll have to accept that at least the hay bale is lost.  You should be able to save your barn and home, though.

Smoke Damage

PromiseThere’s not much we can do to save your hay after the fire’s destroyed it, but we can repair damage to your home.  Even if you save your barn and home, hay fires produce a lot of smoke and residue.  This gunk can have a real nasty smell to it.  It will coat any surface it can, leaving its lingering smell and staining the paint job.  Even if you can get the stains off, it can be hard to remove the smell.  Fortunately, if that happens, you have us to help you out.

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is an expert on fire damage restoration, and that includes smoke damage.  We have special tools and techniques to remove the smell of smoke.  If smoke from the hay fire should damage your home – or worse, if the fire itself damages your home – get in touch with us.  Our professional restoration team will give your house a thorough cleaning.  After we’re done, we guarantee you won’t even have the lingering smell of smoke to remind you of the fire.  We work with your insurance company to help get you the best price on this process, letting you get back on your feet all the faster.

Don’t wait.  We’re always ready to help.

Fireworks Safety in Cache Valley

Fireworks to Celebrate

fireworksJuly is known for fireworks. As we celebrate Independence Day – and Pioneer Day for Utah – we light up explosives. We dazzle ourselves with the bright colors and deafen ourselves with loud noises. The noise drives our neighbors and their pets crazy. It’s a good time all around.
It’s also a fire danger. Even though the 4th has passed, fireworks are lit up all month long. It’s not always legal, but there’s always a few people ready to slide the law. We’re not here to judge you for that, but just don’t ignore your fireworks safety.

Fire Hazards

Fire is always a risk of setting off fireworks. Just this year alone, firefighters have already had to put out several blazes. In the past, wildfires from mishandled fireworks have caused significant damage to the Logan Canyon mountainside. It’s no leap of logic to see how they could even set your house on fire, too. Be sure you follow these safety tips.

Safety Tips

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Clear a wide area around where you intend to use fireworks to minimize the risk of fire
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • Never use illegal fireworks
  • Fireworks sold in brown paper are for professional use only; do not buy them if you don’t have proper training.
  • Always be aware of the fire hazard warning for the day. Cache Valley posts the fire danger for every day, so be sure to check it.

Sparklers

sparklersSparklers are a favorite firework for many. When I was a kid, everybody wanted to play with them. They’re fun, but they are dangerous. Sparklers burn at temperatures up to 2000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals. Contact with the burning end of the sparkler will cause third degree burns almost instantly. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Given the danger, it’s probably best not to let children play with them (especially not younger children), but if you do, be sure you watch them closely and be ready to take them away at the first sign of things getting out of hand.

Keep Pets Away from Fireworks

It may be tempting to want your precious pup to join in the fun, but this is a bad idea. Animals are extremely afraid of loud noises and burning smells. Fireworks produce these in abundance. If you don’t lock your pet inside during the celebration, more than likely it will run away. This could result in your pet getting lost or injured. That’s not a risk you want to take.

If The Worst Happens

Even with proper precautions, fireworks are dangerous. Injuries are always possible and you should know what to do. If someone is burned by a firework, remove clothing from the burned area and call the doctor immediately.
The worst case scenario would be an eye injury. If there is an injury to the eye, be sure you prevent the injured person from touching or rubbing it. Do not attempt to flush it or put ointment on it. As above, call the doctor immediately. With quick enough medical attention, it may be possible to prevent permanent loss of eyesight.

For More Information

There are specific times of the year when it’s legal to buy fireworks in the state of Utah. The Utah fire marshal has helpfully provided a flier for the dates. For the specifics of the state laws for fireworks in Utah, you can go here.
Staying safe is an important part of our July celebrations, so be sure you follow all our safety tips. If your home should be damaged from fire during these celebrations, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re a full-service restoration company with lots of training. We employ the most experienced professionals in the field of fire restoration. We’ll get your home back in living condition in no time.
Otherwise, we hope you have a safe and fun July!

Fire in Hyrum City

Hyrum City FireStorage Facility Burns

Two weeks ago (6/15/2019), a fire broke out in the Armor Storage facility in Hyrum city at about 8:15 PM.  According to reports, the fire had burned for five whole minutes at least before the fire department was called.  People first tried to put the fire out.  There was plenty of water nearby, but the cluttered building made it impossible to get to the fire’s starting point.  The initial estimates say the fire has caused at least $1.5 million in damages, but it could be as high as $5 million (Source).

Fire Safety

Fires can be devastating.  They continue to burn until put out, or until they run out of fuel.  This means that if fire fighters can’t get them under control, they can destroy your entire house and all its contents.  Fortunately, fire fighters are well-trained and can usually get things under control before it becomes a total loss.  Even so, if a fire breaks out, there’s going to be some damage.  It’s a good idea to know what to do in these cases.

Know What Fires You Can Put Out

Every second counts in a fire.  As stated previously, witnesses at the fire in Hyrum tried to put it out on their own before calling the fire department.  This wasted precious time and probably contributed to how much was destroyed before they got it under control.  It’s important to know when you are able to put a fire out on your own.  If you can’t put it out, call the fire department immediately.  The types of fires that you can put out on your own include:

1. Small Fires on Ordinary Combustibles

If the fire has just started and it’s on ordinary combustibles, like paper, fabric, wood, or trash, usually you can put it out with water.  Trash fires are an example of this type.  If you catch it early, you can put it out before it gets out of control.

2. Grease Fires

Grease fires are common enough in houses.  You’re cooking some breakfast and you walk away from the stove for just a second and suddenly the grease in the pan overheats and catches fire.  These kinds of fires should never be put out with water, as spraying water will simply spread the grease around – and spread the flames.  If a grease fire starts in your home, the appropriate response is to take the lid of a pan and cover the flames to smother them.

This category also includes any flammable liquid fires.  Generally, a good CO2 fire extinguisher will do the trick.

3. Early Electrical Fires

Electrical fires get extra juice from the power source where they started.  If you spot an electrical fire breaking out, the first thing you need to do is power off whatever device started it, by unplugging the device if you can, or by turning off the circuit to the socket it started from.  Then you need to use a dry chemical extinguisher to put the fire out

All of these instructions only apply when the fire is still small at the start.  Once it hits a certain point, it’s too big for you to stop it on your own.  Be sure to call the fire department as soon as you find the fire if it can’t be put out quickly.  Do not waste too much time trying to put it out if it’s already out of control.

Fire Alarms

Fire AlarmMake sure you have up-to-date fire alarms with charged batteries in them.  Modern fire alarms last a long time before they need replacing, but even so, it’s a good idea to check your alarms and make sure once every six months.  Fire alarms will help you notice fires quickly, and this can make all the difference in how much you can save from the disaster.

Fire Restoration

Once the fire is put out, you’ll need to have the damage fixed.  Fortunately, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is a full-service fire restoration company.  Our team of highly trained experts can recover and repair many different possessions.  As independent contractors, we can also repair damage to your home.  Our perfected cleaning techniques can even remove the smoke smell from your home, so not even a lingering trace remains.  We work closely with insurance companies to make sure that you get the best deals possible for your restoration.

If you’ve been hit with a fire recently and need help getting your home back on track, get in touch with us today.  We’ll get you back on your feet in not time at all.

Mold Growing On Walls

5 Things You Need to Know About Mold

Mold, The Smelly Killer

There’s a musty smell in your basement bathroom.  It’s not strong enough to make you nauseous, but it’s unpleasant.  You can’t ignore it.  It’s mold, and it’s a hazard to your health and home.  Here’s what you need to know about mold.

Hazard Classes

mold removalMold falls into three hazard classes: A, B, and C.

Class A molds are the most hazardous. Exposure to Class A mold will result in headaches, fever, coughing, severe allergic reactions, and some are even known to cause cancer.

Class B molds are potentially dangerous because they produce allergic reactions in some people.  The reactions become stronger the more you are exposed to them.  They can worsen asthma and cause serious breathing problems.

Class C molds are not known to be hazardous to health and are not known to cause allergic reactions.  They’re still a problem, however, because they destroy paint, drywall, and wood.  An infestation of Class C mold will ruin the value of your home.

Most molds in your home will fall into Class B, but regardless of their class, you should take care of them as soon as you find them.

How Does Mold Grow?

Mold reproduces by spores, which are spread through the air.  They begin to grow as soon as they land on a material that provides them with what they need.

First, they need a food source, like wood, drywall, or cotton.  Secondly, they need moisture and oxygen.  It also can’t grow under ultraviolet light, so they colonize dark places.  Finally, they need warmth, as the cold makes spores go dormant.  When these conditions are met, it can start to grow in 24-48 hours.

Where Does It Grow?

Mold can grow just about anywhere when the conditions are right.  They prefer to grow on porous, organic surfaces.  The most vulnerable materials are wood, drywall, and paper.  If mold takes root in them, it’s impossible to remove it.  Once it infects these materials, you must remove and replace them.

It can also grow on tiles and concrete, though since these are not organic materials, they aren’t growing on them directly.  Usually, they have some organic material on them, such as dust, or dead skin.  Since it isn’t growing on these materials, it’s fairly easy to clean them off.  You can often wipe it off with a damp cloth.  You can also find mold killing products at home and garden stores that help.

Your Basement is the Most Vulnerable Place

Given the conditions required for mold to grow, the most vulnerable place in your house will be the basement.  It’s underground, so it rarely gets direct sunlight.  Basements tend to be poorly ventilated, so you get pockets of stale, moist air.  As the lowest point in your home, water will always flow towards it when you have a leak or a flood.  All of these conditions combine to make basements the perfect breeding ground.  You should regularly check your basement if you want to keep your house healthy.

5 Signs of Mold Infestation

  1. Odd Smells: Unexplained musty smells are a good indicator of an infestation.
  2. Peeling Wallpaper: Wallpaper is a good source of food for mold. If it takes root, it will cause it to peel, crack, or bubble.
  3. Dark Colored Spots: Mold comes in a variety of colors. If you see any dark, discolored spots on any surface, that’s probably mold growing on it.
  4. Recent Water Damage: With the wet spring we’ve had this year, this is going to be a problem. Water damage creates excellent places for spores to grow, so if you’ve recently experienced flooding or leaks, have your home inspected for mold.
  5. Health Issues: The health effects include worsening asthma, cold symptoms that won’t go away, or allergic reactions. If you suffer from these symptoms, you might want to have your home checked.

 

Be Safe

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration SpecialistsHere at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration, we’re mold experts.  If you’ve noticed signs of mold in your home or office, get in touch with us right away.  Alpine can do testing in your home to find it.  Don’t delay, since the longer it goes untreated, the more difficult and costly it becomes to remove it.

We can take care of the problem from start to finish.  We’ll identify, contain, and remove the mold, and then treat the area afterwards to help prevent further breakouts.  We’ll also help you find the source of the mold, fixing leaky pipes, condensation, and anything else that might be contributing to the infestation.  We do it all.

Storm Damage Restoration

Storm Hammers Logan, Utah

Storm Damage RestorationIt Came from Logan Canyon!!!

Earlier, there was a nasty wind storm coming out of Logan Canyon.  It knocked over trees, blew shingles off roofs, and even knocked out power in some places.  Rocky Mountain Power reported at least 500 customers suffered outages.  This, coupled with the excessive rain, led to Logan City pushing back Memorial day events.  Schools canceled field trips for the safety of the kids. It made a real mess of my lawn, too.

Storm Damage

The most common damage done by storms is to the roof and siding.  High winds blow off shingles and falling trees or branches can pull of rain gutters or punch holes in your roof.  Despite the severity of the storm and how loud it was, most residents agree that it could have been worse.  Don’t let that fool you, though; you can’t always tell right away what damage the storm did.  Sometimes, the damage is basically invisible from the outside.  A tree landing on your roof might not puncture it, or even do much more than scrape a few shingles off, but if it hits the right part of the house, it could crack support structures in your attic.  While it might not cause problems right away, these structural weaknesses might get worse over time.  Then the next storm that comes along might not be so kind to you.

If you’ve had a tree fall on your house, inspect the area where it landed, both inside and outside.  If you suspect there might be some hidden damage, an expert should look at it.

Expert Storm Damage Restoration

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration Specialists

Have no fear, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is here!  We have expert storm damage restoration specialists on call to help you out with any damage caused by the recent storms.  If you see any damage to your house, we can help you fix it before it grows into a real problem.  As full-service contractors, we’re licensed and qualified to coordinate all repairs to any part of your house.  Whether it’s just the roofing, or the siding, or even some damage to the inside of the house, we can restore it all.

Get in Touch

Did the storm do any damage to your home?  Then get a hold of us today.  We even work closely with your insurance agency to help get you the best price on the repairs.  We’ll make sure your insurance company works for you, not the other way around.  We promise that by the time we’re done, it’ll be good as new.  You won’t even be able to tell it was damaged in the first place.

 

carpet cleaning

Carpet Cleaning in Utah and Idaho

Spring Carpet Cleaning

If you haven’t started already, now’s the time to get on the business of spring-cleaning. There’s all kinds of cleaning that we put off during the winter because of the cold. This is mostly outside work and that’s usually what we think of catching up on. Don’t forget carpet cleaning, though. It’s very important to get your carpets deep cleaned after winter.
Here’s why.

General Dirtiness

carpet cleaningCarpets get dirty on their own, just like anything else in your home, but carpets attract a lot of dirt because we walk on them. We get dirt on the bottom of our shoes, which the carpets then loosen up and absorb. Because we walk on it, the dirt sinks in deep and gets packed down. It becomes hard and embeds itself into the fibers of your carpet, damaging them.
This deep-down dirt can be impossible to clean by just regular vacuuming. Even the best vacuum cleaners always miss some of the dirt. Without a professional deep-cleaning, the dirt builds up and causes lasting damage to your carpets. Eventually, you’ll need to replace your carpets and that can be expensive.

Winter is Especially Hard

Because winter is a wet season, you will have more dirt on your shoes. This means more dirt will get into your carpets and be trampled in deep. It isn’t just dirt that’s the problem, though. Cities spray the roads down with salt and other chemicals to keep them from icing up. This is necessary for safety, but these chemicals are very bad for carpets. Alkaline and acidic compounds formed by these chemicals cause more damage to the fibers of your carpets than just dirt on its own. It dissolves the fibers, and when it dries, it hardens into crystalline structures that form sharp edges, cutting deeply into your carpet fibers. The wear and tear from this is far more serious than at any other point in the year. The damage is gradual, however, so we often don’t notice it as it happens. It’s only once the carpet’s ruined that we realize how bad it was.

Allergens

Dust Mites and other allergensAllergies suck. They’re a lot worse when the allergens get into your carpets, though. While you may not have had to worry about them over winter, now that it’s over, they’re starting to come up again. And since this spring has been an especially wet one, there’s a good chance you tracked those allergens into your house and trampled them into your carpets without realizing it.

Not just pollen, though, dust mites are a problem, too. Dust mites produce 200 times their weight in waste each day and this (literal) crap is a very common allergen. Since mites prefer warm, humid environments, they’ll love taking refuge in your damp carpets over the winter. You can’t clean these creatures with just a vacuum cleaner. You need a good, deep cleaning to rid yourself of these pests.

Get Your Carpets Cleaned Today

Once the chemicals and dirt get into your carpet, it’s nearly impossible to clean without professional tools and techniques. That’s why people in Utah and Idaho trust Alpine Cleaning and Restoration for this job. We use state-of-the-art equipment and special shampoos designed to clean up exactly this sort of mess. We also do PH balance for your carpets so they stay cleaner longer. A regular deep cleaning from us can increase the lifetime of your carpets by several years.

So, if you want to get a good deep clean and increase the lifetime of your carpets, get in touch with us today. We’ll give you the best carpet cleaning service you can get anywhere.

snowmelt

Higher Flood Risks This Year

April Showers Bring Flood Warnings

heavy rainA couple days ago, it snowed. Twice in one day. As I sit in my office right now, the rain is pouring down. For Utah, this is a lot of precipitation. Experts in Salt Lake City are saying we could get even more snow this spring. This is on top of what is already the deepest snowpack since 2011. On the positive side, we should have an ample water supply this year. It does mean the risk of flooding is up.

How Does a Desert Flood?

Utah is a desert, as everyone knows. Deserts are dry. So how can a desert flood? A bit part of it is what we call Drywash.

Because the soil doesn’t get regular moisture – especially when it’s warmer – it packs down hard. This means that it doesn’t absorb water very quickly. What can’t be absorbed by the soil simply rushes on, carried by gravity towards the lowest and flattest point it can find. As a result, when we do get a lot of water, it tends to build up above the soil very quickly.

What Are The Risks?

snowmeltThe main cause of flooding in areas like Cache Valley and Salt Lake City is from melting snow. In Cache Valley, nearly all of the water that we use comes from snow in the mountains. When there is more snow than usual, it fills up our reservoirs and rivers faster than we can manage it. This causes them to overflow. Once they do, the water just slides away out of control because the soil can’t absorb it. This means that even if you don’t live anywhere near a river, it’s possible for a flood to reach you.

Unexpected rainfall also causes flooding. Our roads, gutters, and drainage systems are built to handle a certain amount of rainfall.  When a storm drops more precipitation than normal, that extra water overflows and spreads into nearby houses and businesses.

There are ways to prepare. We’ve already written an article on flood preparation, so we encourage you to read that. Since it looks like the risks are higher this year, now would be a good time to take some of those precautions.

Flood Cleanup

rental equipmentOur flood cleanup services will come in useful if you find yourself getting flooded because of the extra moisture we’re getting this year. Our fast response will help you get it under control before it can do lasting damage to your home and we go out of our way to locate where the water is getting in and stop it. Then we’ll bring in our dehumidifiers and wet vacs to make sure your house is dry as a bone before we leave.

If you need help cleaning up a flood, then don’t hesitate to contact us. If you live anywhere from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City, we have offices nearby and can get to you within 60 minutes to ensure that the flooding does as little damage as possible to your home.

floods

Flood Preparation in Utah and Idaho

floods            With winter past its peak and inching toward spring, we can look forward to warmer weather.  While we’re all happy about being able to go outside without so many layers of coats we can’t put our arms down, there is something we ought to be on the lookout for: floods.

Floods are the most common natural hazard faced in the U.S., and Utah is no exception.  Whether it’s the flooding of Ogden in 2015, or the Box Elder Creek overflow in Brigham City last March, floods happen all over.

Causes of Floods

The causes of floods are many and varied.  As a desert region, Utah does not have a lot of consistent rainfall, but sometimes, storms come in and dump a lot of water all at once.  While there are many systems in place to prevent disaster – sewers, drainage basins, dams, etc. – a particularly heavy storm can sometimes drop more water on us than we’re prepared for.  This can cause flooding in houses, especially if they’re at lower elevation.

Storms mixed with the melting snow in the spring can cause rivers to overflow.  If you live along a river or stream, you may not even need to have heavy rain in your area to experience flooding.  If anywhere upstream of you experiences a significant storm, floods are possible.

And on a smaller, more personal scale, a surprise leading cause of flooding in Utah is bad plumbing.  Now that the weather is warming up, leaks from frozen pipes bursting will become apparent.  Although this presents little risk to the community as a whole, it can be quite devastating to a home where it happens.

Flood Preparation

Basement flooding            There are a few things you can do to prepare for floods. First, know how your local government announces flood warnings.  Radio and television will usually announce any warnings. During peak flooding periods, you should be listening for these warnings.

Secondly, take some precautions.  Waterproof your walls, especially your basement.  Have sandbags ready in case you need to lay some down.  Elevate any movable property.  In the case of an emergency evacuation, have a plan.  Have a list prepared of items you need to secure, or take with you.  If time permits, move all of your valuables to an upper floor.  Store insurance policies, important documents and other smaller valuables in a safe-deposit box.

Finally, know what to do when you return.  We’ve already written an article on that subject, so feel free to read that.

We Can Help

In spite of all your precautions, sometimes there is simply nothing you can do to prevent a flood.  Rivers can overflow quite suddenly, giving you no time to put up the sandbags.  Storms can hit equally quick.  And even if warning announcements are made, there’s no way to absolutely guarantee that you’ll hear them.

Floods strike quickly and do a lot of damage. Here at Alpine, we know all about that. We have offices in several locations, from Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls, and are ready to help as soon as you need it.  Since floods do more damage the longer they sit, it’s important to get on them right away. That’s why we promise to arrive within 60 minutes of your call.  We’ll get started as soon as possible in order to save as much of your home as we can.

If you experience flooding this spring – or any time – don’t hesitate to get in touch.  We’ll be there to help you get back on your feet.

Wax Ring

Wax Ring: Problems You Didn’t Know You Had

Unheard of Problems

Everybody’s got problems.  Whether it’s money concerns, health issues, or just Frank next door not returning those yard tools he borrowed, there’s always something going wrong.  It’s easy to fix most problems if you get on top of them right away.  To do that, however, you have to first know what they are.  So I want to let you know about a problem you may not even realize you had: the wax ring under your toilet.

The Wax Ring

Wax RingThe wax ring is an airtight and watertight seal that prevents leakage of fluids and gasses from your toilet and the sewer it connects to.  The reason we never think about this is because generally, it’s not a problem. The wax seal is designed to last as long as your toilet does – up to 30 years or more!  Under normal conditions, you won’t have any problems.  If something DOES go wrong, though, the problems it can cause will be expensive if you don’t take care of them.

The Problems of A Broken Seal

If the wax seal breaks, the toilet will leak. However, most of the water will leak underneath the floor.  This will warp the wood your bathroom tile normally protects, weakening the floor. If left too long, you’ll need to replace the whole floor.  That’s expensive, time consuming, and worst of all, most insurance companies don’t cover it.  They claim you can’t prove who is at fault – you, or the previous owner of the house.  It’s a dirty way to get out of covering a major issue, but it’s what many do. This will often put the repairs completely on you.

3 Signs the Wax Ring Might Need Replacing

 

1. Odors

The wax ring is supposed to be an airtight seal. That means no air from the sewers bellow should be able to get through it into your house.  This is important because aside from the terrible smell, sewer gas contains hydrogen sulfide, which can be harmful to your health.  If you smell a distinct rotten egg odor from your bathroom, then it’s a good sign that the seal cracked.

 

2. Leaks

problemsIf the wax seal cracks, then water from the toilet will start to form puddles around the base of your toilet.  However, a puddle doesn’t automatically mean a broken seal. It can also be condensation on the tank, or a leaky joint where the water line meets the tank.  Before you try replacing the ring, you should check to make sure that these other issues aren’t the real problem.  Either way, water puddles rot your floor. Don’t delay fixing it.

 

3. Wobbling Toilet

If your toilet wobbles, that might mean it’s sitting on a broken flange.  If so, you’ll have to replace it, and that also means replacing the wax ring.  The ring should not be jiggled.  Even if the flange isn’t broken, even if your toilet only wobbles a tiny bit, constant movement weakens and eventually cracks the seal.

Moving Your Toilet

Whether temporarily removing it, or completely replacing the toilet, if you pull the toilet out for any reason, you will have to replace the ring.  Pulling up the toilet , or even just repositioning it slightly, can break the seal apart.  When you replace the seal, be sure that you remove all of the old ring.  It will usually peel off in chunks, requiring the use of a putty knife to remove it all.  If don’t remove all of the old ring, the new one won’t sit right on the flange and will break much faster.

Worse Comes To Worse

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration can help.  If the wax ring cracks and floods, we can clean up the mess and help you restore the damage.  Our experts are ready to act as soon as you call. Since water damage is harder and more expensive to fix the longer it lasts, we guarantee that if you call for water damage we will arrive in 60 minutes to get started on it.  However, you can usually spot and fix this problem before you need our help.  If you notice any of the warning signs that the seal might be going bad, check up on it, don’t ignore it.  Replacing the wax ring is much easier and less expensive than repairing and restoring after flood damage.

Don’t wait.  Hesitation can cost you big time.

House Fire

Common Causes of House Fires Over Holidays

house fireHappy Holidays

The winter seasons has a lot of holidays.  The freezing cold and shortened days makes people want to chase away the gloom.  From October to February, we have holiday after holiday, from Halloween to Valentine’s Day.  The holidays in the middle, especially Thanksgiving and the December holidays, feature big meals and family events.  It’s a wonderful time and the last thing you want is to have it spoiled by a house fire.

 

House Fire

House fires are one of the most devastating accidents you can suffer.  They could potentially destroy your entire home, along with all your possessions. Even if they don’t get that out of control, there will still be some damage from both the flames and the smoke. The best way to avoid a house fire is to prevent it.  For that, you need to know what to worry about.  Here are some of the most common causes of house fires.

1. Cooking Fires

Most house fires are caused by cooking-related incidents.  They account for about 58% and are usually caused by someone leaving a stove on.  If you want to prevent a cooking fire, be sure you always stay near your cooking equipment while it’s in use. Don’t ever walk away from the stove, even if you think it’s just for a moment.  Something as simple as leaving the room to answer a phone call can be all it takes for a fire to start.  Always use a timer.  If the timer has a loud alarm, all the better, so in case you do get distracted, you’ll have a reminder.  Always follow cooking instructions, especially when you’re cooking something big, like a Thanksgiving turkey.  Finally, make sure that you keep anything flammable away from the cooking surfaces.  Do not put anything on the stovetop and store flammable liquids and powders away from it.

2. Heating

This may come as a shock, but heating equipment gets hot.  I know, right?  Who’d have ever believed it?  That’s why heating systems are the second biggest cause of fires.  Usually this results from a failure to clean the heater or chimney.  Dust is flammable and can easily catch fire if it chokes the heater too much.  Make sure you have it cleaned every year.  Portable space heaters are also a serious risk. They get very hot and can easily set fire to nearby substances, like dirty laundry carelessly dropped on the floor, or the blankets on your bed if you set them too close.  If you set one up in your home office, be sure that it’s away from any paper.  They also need regular cleaning.  Don’t take any chances with them.

3. Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are another of the most common causes. Faulty lighting fixtures cause most electrical fires.  Either they’re installed to close to something flammable, or they’re installed incorrectly and short out.  Other causes of electrical fires include overloading outlets by plugging in too many power strips, using the wrong type of bulb for a lighting fixture, and using appliances with frayed cords.  Always have a qualified electrician install and repair your electrical systems.  And never, NEVER overload an outlet.

 

4. Open Flames

Especially over the holidays, people like to light fires. Usually in the fireplace, but you also need to worry about candles, Christmas decorations, and naughty children with matches.  If you want to start a fire in your home, make sure the fireplace and chimney are clean and clear of debris.  If you light candles, don’t leave them unattended and make sure you put them out before going to bed.  Avoid using real candles for Christmas tree decorations.  If you smoke, do not do so before going to bed, as it’s easy to fall asleep with a lit cigarette.  If a lit cigarette starts a fire in your bed, the chances of dying in a house fire go up dramatically for obvious reasons.  Finally, make sure you always store your candles, matches, and lighters in a secret place where your children can’t find them.

 

Dryer Fire5. Misuse of Appliances

Appliances are extremely convenient, but they can be a cause of fires if not used appropriately.  As electrical devices, they are subject to many of the same risks. Frayed cords can cause shorts and sparks that can light up many of the things you store in your kitchen or around the house.  Drier fires can happen if you fail to clean the lint filter.  Always make sure you follow the instructions and safety precautions on your appliances.  These will be specified in the user’s manual.

 

Don’t Forget About Fire Alarms

A working fire alarm is the difference between losing a little and losing a lot.  It can even be a life or death situation.  60% of all deaths in house fires happen in houses that don’t have proper smoke alarms.  While most homes have them built in during construction by law these days, older homes may not have them, so be sure to check up on them.  Check the batteries to make sure they are still good.  The battery life on most commercially sold fire alarms will be many years, but you still need to do tests to make sure nothing’s faulty.

 

We’re Here To Help

Alpine 100% No Smoke Smell Guarantee Seal            The best way to avoid a fire is to prevent it.  It’s easy to think that it’ll never happen to you, but it always could.  Make sure you take all the needed precautions.  If you do, you shouldn’t need to worry.  Still, nothing can guarantee a fire won’t start.   If something should go wrong, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is here to help.  Read our handy article on what to do immediately following a house fire.  After that,  get in touch with us and we can help restore your home from any fire damage.  When we’re done, you won’t smell any traces of smoke.

Stay safe, and enjoy your holidays.