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.

Ice Dam

3 Common Problems Caused by Ice Dams

Ice Dam

Image copyright: Dennis M. Crookshanks

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a major problem for many homes during the winter.  Snow builds up on your roof and when the roof warms, the snow melts.  As the water flows down away from the heated areas, it freezes again.  As the ice builds up, it can begin to cause all sorts of damage to your home.  Here are 3 major problems that can come up.

1. Icicles

Icicles are a fact of winter, but while they may look fine, they are a safety hazard.  This is especially true when they form on the edge of your house.  As they get larger and heavier, they can break off and fall. The damage a two-foot-long spear of ice can do to your car – or your head – can’t be laughed off.  Ice dams form large numbers of icicles in a short time, making them an immediate risk to your personal safety.

2. Leaks

With the repeated melting and freezing of snow on your room, some of the water will be backed up underneath your shingles.  This will soak the sheathing and leak into the attic.  From there, it can leak further into your home.  This can lead to rotting and mold inside your house, which is expensive to repair.

3. Roof Damage

Along with the leaks, the ice dam will also cause damage to the shingles on your roof.  They could rot and fall off, which hurts the value of your home and can raise your insurance rates if you don’t take care of it.

Along with damage to the shingles, it also puts a lot of weight on your guttering.  If allowed to sit, it could bend the guttering, or even break it off completely.

 

How Do I Prevent an Ice Dam?

Once the snow has already fallen, it can be tough to prevent ice dams.  There are products you can buy to melt the ice and tools to scrape it off, but using them requires you to climb up on the roof during the winter.  This, you might be able to guess, is dangerous.  There are also cleaning companies who will be happy to help remove the ice and repair the damage if you’d rather not take the risk yourself.

However, the best way to prevent ice dams is to take some steps before the snow falls.  For starters, proper ventilation can help you keep the roof cool so the ice doesn’t melt.  But ventilation alone won’t do the trick.  You need to do everything you can to make sure your attic is kept as close to the same temperature as the outside.  To do this, apply insulation to your attic floor.  Sealing in the air leaks of your attic will not only help prevent ice dams, but will also keep your living spaces warmer.  Secondly, minimize heat sources in your attic.  Check for uninsulated lights, ductwork, or exhaust fans.  All of these can bring hot air from your house to your attic.

Finally, before the winter comes, make sure you clean out your gutters.  If your gutters are clogged with fallen leaves, then the melted snow has nowhere to go. It will cling to the leaves and freeze, causing ice to build up faster.

 

We’re Here To Help

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is always here to help if you need it.  While we hope a little preparation before the coming snowfall will prevent the problem, things can always go wrong.  Whether ice dams end up causing damage to your guttering, roof, or just cause leaks and mold, we are able to help you repair the damage.  Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need our help.

hose

Protect Your Hoses and Faucets from Freezing

hose

The Hose and Faucet Freeze Checklist

It’s not winter yet, but winter is coming. There’s no clearer sign of it than how quickly the nights are cooling down.  Here in Utah and Idaho, frost and freezing can start to happen before winter actually begins, so now is the time to start protecting your home from the coming cold.  There’s no better place to start than with your hoses and outdoor faucets.

 

Remove the Hoses

You might be wondering why you have to unplug your hoses if you turned off the water.  After all, how can it freeze if there’s no water running to it?  Just turning off the faucets is no guarantee.  Even if your faucets are not putting out water, that doesn’t mean there’s no water in the hoses.  While the water may have stopped spraying, there’s still water inside the hose.  Your best efforts to get it all out won’t get everything.  During the summer, excess water will evaporate in the heat.  In the fall, it never gets warm enough for that.  By the time the first frosts roll around, there’ll be plenty of water leftover in the hose; enough to burst your hoses if you leave them out.  This may even potentially damage the faucets they’re attached to.

 

Inspect The Faucets

faucet            Once you’ve removed the hoses, inspect the faucets. Check all the faucets for leaks and drips.  Even a small leak is enough to freeze.  If the water freezes, the expansion could damage the faucet or the pipes connected to it.  This will lead to worse leaks and possible flooding in the spring. Worse, if it freezes during the winter, it can become impossible to do anything about it until spring.  So, if you do find any leaks while inspecting your faucets, correct them before the winter hits.

Here’ we’re talking specifically about the outside faucets. If you’d like to learn more about how to winterize your pipes to prevent them from freezing, we have another article you can check out.

 

Storing Your Hose

Once you’ve inspected the faucets, it’s time to store your hoses away for the winter.  It’s easier to do while it’s still a little warm, so don’t delay.  First, do your best to drain your hose.  Elevate it at one end so the water runs down, then slowly walk along the length of the hose, elevating each position as you pass.  When you get to the other end, keep it elevated until the water stops dripping out.  Afterward, coil it up, making sure there are no kinks.  The coil should be about three feet in diameter.  Be sure to connect the end fittings to keep insects from crawling into it and plugging it up.  Once this is done, store the hose in a warm location off the floor.  A hose hanger or shelf in the garage is usually the best bet.

 

Enjoy the Winter

Despite the cold, there’s a lot to enjoy about the winter and we hope you do.  While we can help with the potential flood problems if you need it, it would be far better if it never came up.  Be sure to take care of these before it gets too cold.  And if you need anything else from us, be sure to get in touch.

Utah County Wildfires

Cleaning up Smoke Damage in Utah County

The Twin Wild Fires in Utah County

Firemen in Utah County are battling with two wildfires.  As of yesterday morning, the Pole Creak fire has consumed almost 7500 acres of land and Bald Mountain lost 1500 acres to its blaze.  As a result, thousands of people evacuated the area and are awaiting the chance to return.  Firemen have partially contained the wildfires; 25% at Pole Creak and 14% at Bald Mountain.  At the time of writing, no homes have been destroyed.  While that’s good news, the fires are likely to cause considerable smoke damage to the homes nearby.  This will leave many residents with a bad mess to clean up when they return.

 

Smoke Damage

Smoke DamageSmoke damage is caused primarily because of the ionization of particles in the smoke.  Ionization gives smoke particles an electrical charge, which attracts them to surfaces. Certain surfaces are more likely to attract them. Metal objects will create a magnetic attraction, causing smoke to cluster around them.  While drywall might hide metal nails, they still have enough of power to draw smoke to the wall, causing it to form rings around the nail.  Furnishings made of synthetic fibers also tend to have a stronger attraction to smoke particles.

Because of the way hot air interacts with cold air, smoke can get into places you wouldn’t normally expect it to.  Seemingly enclosed spaces have greater smoke damage than open spaces, and because it naturally moves toward cooler areas, it has a tendency to get behind drapes and blinds.  It will follow ventilation systems, leaving residue that your vents will spread to the rest of the house if not cleaned up.    And because smoke is so light, it can easily carried by the wind, even if the fire never gets close to your home.  Even if you’ve taken all the proper precautions, there’s still the possibility that the smoke will get on, or into your home.  So what can you do about it?

 

Alpine’s 100% No-Smoke Smell Guarantee

Alpine 100% No Smoke Smell Guarantee SealThe Fire Restoration team at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration are experts at cleaning up smoke damage.  With more than 25 years of experience, we know all the tricks.  We use hydroxyl generators to completely remove all traces of the smell of smoke.  This process is completely non-toxic, allowing you and your family to still live in the home while we clean it up.  We also use an ozone chamber to remove the smoke residue from objects in your house.  By the time we’re done, you won’t be able to even tell that there was a fire.  That’s our 100% guarantee!

 

Give Us A Call

At the time of writing, the fire is still ongoing in Utah County. Firefighters are doing their best to contain them and we appreciate all their effort.  Please stay safe.  Do not return to your homes until you’ve been given the all clear.  Hopefully the fires won’t seriously damage any homes, but if they do, we’re here to help.  Whether it’s fixing damage from the flames, or the smoke, we can help you get back on your feet quickly.  Give us a call at 1-855-4-ALPINE, or use our handy contact form.  Get in touch as soon as you’re ready.  We’ll fix your home up right away.

 

Stay safe.

Protein fire

What To Do About Protein Fires

What is That Smell?

Protein fire            It happened a few weeks ago.  You were cooking some chicken, when out of nowhere the doorbell rings. It was Betty, from down the street. It wasn’t anything important.  She just wanted to talk.  She’s old, her kids all moved out years ago, and they never call her, and she wants to tell you all about it.

At length and in excruciatingly unnecessary detail.

When she finally leaves, you’re so relieved you sit down by the TV to relax.  Only, what’s that smell?  It turns out, you forgot to set a timer on the chicken and now it’s burned.  Well, that sucks.  You clean up the mess, throw out the burned meat and decide to order take out.  You don’t think much of it at the time.  Two weeks later, there’s a smoky reek in the kitchen, but you can’t see anything smoke damage.

 

Protein Fire

A protein fire results from burning any protein rich fibers, such as those you find in most meat, or eggs. What’s so remarkable about protein fires is that they don’t actually look like fires.  They don’t have large flames and they don’t produce visible smoke. This is a result of the slow-cooking process used to cook protein rich foods.  The animal fat in protein burns down to a fine, nearly invisible mist. While you can’t see it, the mist will coat everything in a sticky, rancid residue.  It gets everywhere, coating your stovetop, clothes, carpets, tiles, and penetrating the paint on your walls.  Any porous surface soaks it up.

 

It Won’t Go Away!

The worst part of a protein fire is that the residue cannot be cleaned by normal means.  Ordinary household cleaners won’t get into pores the residue sinks into, so the stink lingers.  Months down the line you’ll find yourself wondering what the smell is and how to get rid of it.  What do you do?

You Need Professional Assistance

Because of the way the residue penetrates into porous materials, standard cleaning job won’t do.  You need a thorough cleaning.  Only specialized cleaners will break up the residue and you need special cleaning techniques to get deep enough to scrub that smell away.  In some cases, even that may not be enough, so it’s necessary to apply a sealing agent.  You may also need to repaint tainted surfaces. The process is lengthy, taking several days and multiple cleanings to completely remove the scent.

 

Exercise Kitchen Safety

The best way to deal with a protein fire is to avoid having one in the first place.  For that, you just need to follow some basic kitchen safety rules.

Remember to set a timer whenever you cook something. It’s very easy to forget something in the oven, especially if you get distracted.  A timer with a loud alarm will save you from this mistake.

If you are frying something on the stovetop, such as eggs or meat, do not ever walk away with the stovetop still on.  If the phone or doorbell rings, or one of your kids starts shouting at you from the basement, turn the stove off.  It only takes a few minutes for something to burn, and a few minutes is often how long distractions will take, so don’t take the risk.

These two simple steps will reduce your chances of a protein fire – or any kind of fire – to almost 0.

 

What To Do

If a protein fire does start, there are a few things you need to do right away.

First, extinguish the fire.  Turn off the stove and remove the pan from heat.  Remove the burned meat from your house as soon as possible.  Don’t throw it away inside, or it will continue to spread the smell.

Second, remember to keep your hands clean.  If you get the residue on your hands, you will spread it to everything you touch.  Put on some good cleaning gloves before you do anything so you don’t get it on your hands.

Third, cover your furniture, rugs and carpets, and upholstery with old sheets, or plastic covers.  This will help prevent the residue from spreading around your house.

Alpine 100% No Smoke Smell Guarantee Seal            Finally, call us as soon as you can.  Remember that this job requires special chemicals that only professionals can get a hold of and special cleaning techniques only we know.  If you try to clean it yourself, you’ll most likely just end up spreading the residue – and the smell – around.  The longer you wait, the more the residue will sink in and the more chances there are of the people who live in the house spreading it by accident.

So, don’t hesitate; call the experts at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration right away.  Our fire restoration team will get on the job ASAP.  We’ll have it cleaned up as quickly as possible.  By the time we’re done, there won’t be any trace of the smell left behind.

 

plumbing

Fall Plumbing Preparation

PlumbingFall Is the Best

Summer draws to a close, taking its long days of exhausting heat with it.  The cooler weather makes spending time outside more fun here in Utah and Idaho.  The changing leaves will fill the landscape with color.  Fall is a good time to enjoy yourself; however, don’t get so busy enjoying yourself that you neglect winter preparations.   In a few months, the snow will start to fall and the cold weather will lead to problems in your plumbing.

Frozen Plumbing Is No Fun

One of the biggest problems of the winter is when the pipes freeze.  The ice expands and bursts the pipes, which will flood your house as soon as it starts to warm.  That’s a mess you don’t want to deal with, so be sure to take some precautions.

Adhesive Insulation           It’s pretty well known that leaving your faucet running during the night is one way to help prevent pipes from freezing.  This works up to a point, but a better and more reliable method is installing insulation.  This is an easy project you can do yourself.  Adhesive plumbing insulation is readily available at any home improvement stores and is easy to attach.  Just measure the length of the pipes, cut the insulation to the appropriate length with a utility knife, and stick it to the pipes.  It won’t take long and will go along way to keeping the pipes from freezing.

While you’re installing the insulation, keep an eye out for any leaks in the pipes.  Leaks in the pipes greatly increase the chance of the pipes bursting if they freeze.  If you find any leaks, call a plumber to have them fixed as soon as you can.

 

Don’t Forget The Hoses

Freezing water can ruin hoses just as easily as plumbing.  Be sure to disconnect them when it starts to get cold.  Fix any leaking faucets they connect to so you don’t have to worry about icicles over the winter.  Roll up the hoses and store them somewhere warmer than the outside.  Your garage will usually suffice.

 

Inspect Your Water Heater

It’s a good idea to inspect your water heater once a year.  Fall is the best time for this.  You’ll need plenty of hot water over the winter, so make sure your heater is up for it.  Look for rust, puddles of water, or other warning signs.  Check the pressure relief valve to make sure there’s no danger of the heater exploding.  Have a plumber drain and clean any sediment build-up.  All this will make sure your heater is able to last you through the winter.

 

Check The Sump Pump

The sump pump helps prevent basement flooding.  Its position away from the house also makes it a freezing risk and a faulty pump will be a serious problem during a thaw. Make sure the pump is working properly by removing the lid and checking for clogs.  Pour water into the pit to make sure it drains.

 

If Something Goes Wrong

If you take the appropriate steps in the fall, you shouldn’t have any problems over the winter.  In case you do, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is there to help.  In the event of a flood, whether it be from burst pipes, or unexpected precipitation, cleaning things up fast is vital.  That’s why Alpine has a guaranteed 1-hour emergency response time.  Get in touch with us, and we’ll be there as fast as we can to start the cleanup process immediately.  We save you a lot of time and money by taking care of it before it gets out of hand.  We’ll restore your flooded home to as good, if not better than it was before we arrived.

Wildfire

5 Wildfire Safety Tips

Wildfire

It’s Wildfire Season Again

You may have heard about the wildfire blazing on the Utah-Idaho border.   This is only one of as many as twenty wildfires that firefighters in Utah have responded to this year.  Already, they have burned up as much as 1500 acres of land.  Smoke from these fires has created a smoggy haze that’s fallen over cities many miles from the fire’s actual location.

Wildfires are destructive and terrifying, but they only happen in forests right?  Wrong! Last year, the most devastating fires in California all happened miles away from any forests despite the focus on forest firefighting in the media.  Urban areas are a prime target for wildfires, most often because people think they’re safe and don’t take precautions.  In the last article, we looked at some general fire safety tips.  Today, we’re going to look at five ways you can specifically protect yourself and your home from wildfires.

 

1. Secure the Area Around Your Home

A common mistake people make with fire safety is having combustible materials too close to their homes. Wildfires generate intense heat and can ignite material from as much as 100 feet away!  Therefore, it’s wise to move firewood, dead plants and dried grass, unpruned and low-hanging branches, and even wood fencing, as well as anything else that could catch fire to a minimum safe distance of at least 30 feet. If you do have a wooden fence, it’s a good idea to separate it from your home with a masonry or metal barrier to prevent a fire from spreading along the fence to your house.

But it’s also important that you don’t go overboard. Some people think creating a buffer zone means clearing out anything that might burn within the 100 foot danger area.  This is actually a mistake.  While you should definitely thin out the vegetation close to your home, be sure to leave some there.  It will help to catch the embers blown by the wind, which is the number one way that wildfires ignite houses.  Live vegetation, when kept watered, is slower to ignite than you’d think.  If enough is there to catch the embers, they are more likely to have time to cool before they can actually ignite anything.

2. Keep the Fire From Getting In

Speaking of embers, a single one is enough to light up any number of things in your home.  You need to do everything you can to keep them out.  The number one place for them to get in is through openings in the eaves and vents on your roof.  Make sure that any openings are screened.   It may seem like a little detail, but a good metal screen is often a surefire way to make sure the fire doesn’t get into your house.

Windows are another overlooked precaution.  Intense heat can go right through the glass and light up anything too close.  Replace your drapes and any furniture near the windows with heat-resistant fabrics.

Combine this with some extra planning for the outside of your house and the chances of your home surviving a wildfire increase dramatically.  And on the subject of the exterior . . .

3. Protect the Outside of Your Home

The best time to start planning on fire protection is when you first start building a house.  From the get-go, you should plan for wildfires, especially if you live in an area prone to them.  First of all, consider the location.  Putting your house near a thick stand of tress is clearly not a smart idea, but it’s also a bad idea to put your house on hilltop, or overhanging any place that a wildfire might sweep through.  These spots are just asking for your house to go up in a blaze.

When designing your home, plan to build it from fire resistant materials.  Avoid complicated shapes in the layout, as these create places for embers to fall and get stuck in.  If you build your homes with these in mind, it will greatly reduce the fire danger.

If you aren’t building a new house, try to buy one that meets these conditions.  And even if you’ve already bought your home, there are still ways to improve on it.  Consider upgrading the roof, for example.  Older homes often have wooden shingles.  These are a big mistake.  Asphalt shingles are better, but steel and tile are the safest.  If you’ve got a wood-shingled house, have the roof replaced with better materials as soon as you can.  Not only will it decrease the fire hazard, but it can also reduce your insurance rates.

4.  Work with Your Neighbors

All of these safety tips are useful, but they might not be any good if your neighbors don’t also take precautions.  In places where homes are closely packed, your house is only as fire-proof as the one next door.

Therefore, it is a good idea to form community fire plans. Get together with the people in your area and make sure everyone understands the basics of fire safety. Help them fire-proof their homes as much as you can, because if their home goes up, yours might, too. Community meetings to discuss the matter will help get everyone on board.  Don’t be afraid to remind your neighbors of fire hazards in their yards, either; chances are, they might not have realized it and will appreciate the reminder.

5. Always Have A Plan

Even with all the precautions taken, there’s no way you can absolutely guarantee your home will be protected.  Do everything you can to protect your home, but be sure that you have a plan for what to do if a wildfire gets out of control in your area.  Develop a plan for what you will do and where you will go if a wildfire gets close to your home.  Make sure that your family knows it and have practice evacuations so everybody in your home knows what to do.  It will help them stay calm if the worst should happen.

Don’t try to stay in your home if a fire gets close. There’s nothing you can do to prevent your house from burning down by staying in it.  A house can be rebuilt, but lives lost cannot be restored.  Do not take the risk.  Taking the above precautions will dramatically increase the chances of your house surviving a wildfire.  If you’ve done them, then all that remains to do is get yourself and your family to safety and hope for the best.

 

We’re Ready To Help You

Alpine 100% No Smoke Smell Guarantee Seal            We all hope that the worst doesn’t happen, but that’s not always in our control.  Even with every precaution taken, your house might still be lost or damaged in a fire. If that happens, the people at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration are here for you.  We’re the best restoration company in Utah.  As soon as the firefighters give the clear to return, you can get in touch.  We will restore your house to as good as new, if not better.  You won’t even smell the smoke!  We’ll work with your insurance agency to give you the best restoration possible.  You can rest easy knowing we’re on the job.

House Fire

Summer Fire Safety

Summer fire safety

The Heat Is On!

We’re coming up on the final month of summer, but the heat isn’t letting up just yet.  Many people think that summer is the worst season for fire danger, but according to the NFIRS, summer is actually when the lowest dangers exist.  I know it’s hard to believe that when we keep reading about the huge wildfires in California, but only about 8% of all house fires that happen occur in the summer.  Most house fires happen in December and January – often due to faulty space heaters and wood burning stoves/fire pits.  But don’t let that make you think that summer is a time you can overlook fire safety.  Here are a few things you should consider to make sure your house doesn’t go up in smoke.

Cooking Fires

By far, the most common cause of house fires is cooking and that doesn’t stop during the summer.  Nearly 32% of all house fires are caused by cooking accidents.  Never leave stoves and ovens on, even briefly, when you can’t be there to attend them.  It only takes a second for them to overheat and start a fire and if you aren’t close enough to stop it, it’ll quickly spread.  Grease and oil are particularly bad offenders on that front.  Dishrags left too near the heat are also a danger. To reduce the risk of danger, make sure you clean the cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease from building up on them.

Air Conditioning

While faulty heating systems cause many fires, air conditioning units cause their fair share as well.  Portable and fixed AC units will sometimes have inadequate wiring for their heavy power loads, which causes short circuits.  The peak time for AC fires is between 2 and 8 PM, when they see peak usage.  Be sure to have an electrician check your AC unit to make sure the wiring is properly installed and can handle the load.

Look for ways to avoid needing to use the air conditioner all day so it won’t overheat.  Consider turning on a small fan in the room you’re using rather than running the AC all through the house if you can.  Check the AC’s filter regularly to make sure it doesn’t build up dust or debris.  And never, ever run a cord powering an AC unit under a rug or through a door.  This increases the chances of the cord being damaged, which is guaranteed to start a fire sooner or later.

Yard and Vehicle Maintenance

You’d be surprised how much this goes overlooked. During the summer, a poorly kept yard is a prime target for fires.  Loose brush and debris are highly combustible.  Be sure to clear them from your yard.  While you’re at it, trim the bushes and trees, as poorly kept branches and brambles are also prone to catching fire.  Check up on your vehicles to make sure that no hot metal parts dangle from under it.  Mufflers and exhaust pipes are chief offenders here.  Keep them raised away from the ground as much as possible and avoid parking your cars near dry brush or grass.  Be sure to avoid dragging chains, or other metal objects that could create sparks.  Keep a shovel somewhere in the yard that you can access quickly to bury a fire if you catch one starting early.

Attics

Attic fires peak in both summer and winter.  While in the winter, the cause is often faulty wiring; during the summer the cause can be just the heat itself.  Attics are often closed-off spaces with poor ventilation. Combined with the insulation surrounding them, they are prone to getting very, very hot.  Do not overstuff your attic with items, especially not combustible ones like paper.  Not only does this increase the number of things that can catch fire if it gets to hot, it provides more fuel for the fire if it does start.

It can also make it impossible for you to get at the fire with an extinguisher if you catch it early enough to stop it.  The summer months are also prone to lightning storms.  While there’s not much you can do to stop lightning from striking, you can mitigate the damage.  Unplug appliances during thunderstorms to prevent short circuits and consider installing a lightning protection system if you live in an area where lightning storms are particularly common.

General Fire Safety

The general fire safety rules are as good in summer as any other time.  Don’t overload power sockets.  Install smoke alarms and check up on their batteries regularly to make sure they work. Keep fire extinguishers in accessible places near known fire risk areas.  And in case the worst happens, always have a fire safety plan.  Make sure your children know it and practice following through on it.  The more you practice, the less likely you are to panic if a fire actually breaks out.

We’re Here To Help

Even with the best fire safety precautions, accidents can happen.  That’s why Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is on call 24/7, ready to respond at a moment’s notice.  If something should go wrong and a fire starts, get in touch.  Fire prevention starts with you, but fire cleanup starts with us.  If your home is damaged by fire, we can not only clean it up, but also restore to just as good a condition as it was before the fire. There won’t even be the scent of smoke to remind you that a fire ever happened.

That’s a promise.

Kitchen remodeling

Remodeling Your Kitchen

Kitchen remodeling

Fix Up Your Kitchen

Remodeling your kitchen is a big investment of time and money, but there are lots of reasons to do it.  It can add value to your house, make the space more convenient, or enlarge it to accommodate a growing family.  Completing a remodel can be rewarding and fulfilling.

When you want the best remodel available – whether you live in Logan, Smithfield, Ogden, Salt Lake City, or even southern Idaho – look no further than Alpine Cleaning and Restoration Specialists.  We are full-service contractors and can help you with every step of the process.  But how will the process go?  Here’s a run-down of the process and some tips to keeping things within your budget.

Planning Out the Remodeling Budget

A top-of-the-line remodel of your kitchen can run upwards of $50,000 or more.  While this is a lot of money, on average the return on investment can be as high as 67% if you ever resell your home.  These costs are not absolute, however; with proper planning and budgeting, it’s possible to get a high-quality remodeling job for lower costs.

The first step to achieving this is to work out a vision for your kitchen.  Visualize how you want the kitchen to look, how big you want it, what you intend to use it for.  Write these considerations down for future reference.

Once you’ve got the rough vision worked out, it’s time to get to the specifics.  Get yourself some graphing paper and draw out the floor plan.  If you feel you’re lacking in design or drawing skills, you can hire a kitchen designer, or go to your local home improvement store for help. If you intend to hire a designer, be prepared to pay about 10% of your total budget costs to them.  It’s not necessary to hire a professional, but it may help the job go more smoothly.  Think carefully about how sure you are of your own skills before you decide to design it yourself.  Once the work starts, it can be a challenge to rework the design if problems come up, so if you aren’t sure, have a professional try their hand.  Best to get it done right the first time.

Ordering Materials

What do you need in your kitchen?  Cabinets, lighting, and appliances are the main things to consider, as any kitchen needs them to be a kitchen.  But you should also consider what kind of flooring you want.  Wood?  Tile? Linoleum?  Or perhaps you like the flooring you already have.  If it’s good for you, that will save some money.  You might decide not to do the flooring right away.  Holding off on the flooring for a bit can lower the initial costs, which will reduce the interests on the loans you may have to take out for the job. You can always redo the flooring later if you have to.

These items will cost the most and have the most effect on the look and feel of your kitchen.  Take your time on these decisions to be sure the items work well together.  Be sure to consider the time you want the remodeling to be done when you order your materials, because it may take up to a month and a half for everything to arrive.

Generally, the spring and summer months are the best time to remodel your kitchen.  This is when it is most comfortable to eat and cook outside, which will reduce the temptation to eat out.  The cost of eating out while you do the remodeling can add up to a lot, so make eating at home as convenient as possible during the process.

This is the most expensive stage because of the cost of the materials.  You should expect it to take up around 45% of the total budget.

The Nitty Gritty

Now comes the messy part.  This step is where you pull out all your appliances and fixtures so the work can be done.  You’ll need to set up a makeshift kitchen elsewhere in the house.  Your garage and laundry room are some possibilities, if you’ve got enough space.  If your garage is too cluttered, perhaps you could clean it up first.

This step will cost you around 25% of your budget. You will need to hire a professional to tear out old plumbing and electrical lines and install new ones. This part can take up to two and a half months.

Installing Everything

You can now pull out all of the materials you’ve been storing and have them installed.  If you took our advice and bought everything ahead of time, this step should roll along smoothly.

Expect to pay 20% of your budget on this step.  This will be the most exciting part, because you get to see all of your hard work come together.  Feel the thrill as the pieces fall into place one-by-one.

Enjoy Your Kitchen!

Your new kitchen is ready, so now it’s time to invite guests!  Show it off to friends, or just enjoy your new kitchen with your family.  With the hard work done, feel free to continue making improvements on it.  The upgrades will be cheaper and will make your kitchen feel comfortable and look lovely.

Let us Help

Now that you have a bit of an idea about how the process goes, get in touch with us.  Here at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration, our team is always ready to help you out.  If you have any questions, or would like some advice, or are ready to begin and want a price quote, give us a call. We’re ready to help you with all your kitchen remodeling needs!

Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs: What To Do

“Good night.  Sleep tight.  Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

My mother used to say this to me every night before bed when I was a child.  For a while, I actually ended up thinking that bed bugs were just an old wives’ tale; something mothers say just because their mothers said it.  But no, bed bugs are real and they are one of the biggest nuisance pests in the world.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed BugsBed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on blood. The species Cimex Lectulariusin in particular feeds exclusively on human blood.  The insect requires blood to complete each of its stages of metamorphosis.  They use body temperature, moisture, carbon dioxide, and visual cues to locate a sleeping host to feed on.  Bed bugs were almost completely eradicated in the developed world in the 1940s.  In the mid-90s, they began to reappear, most likely because of increased international travel, bans on certain pesticides, and increasing poison resistance.

 

What’s The Danger?

If you’re worried about diseases, you can relax – at least a bit.  So far, all research indicates that, although they can carry a number of human pathogens, they do not transmit them.  While this makes them less worrisome than fleas or ticks, they are still a nuisance.  Their bites cause swelling and redness often mistaken for rashes, and scarring.  Most bites show no symptoms at all, but occasionally they can cause moderate to severe allergic reactions.  If the bites are left untreated, or are scratched, it is possible for them to become infected.

 

How Do I Spot Them?

bed bug eggsIf you suffer bites during the night, it’s a pretty obvious sign that you might have an infestation.  The bites will appear on exposed skin, most commonly the neck, shoulders, arms and other areas of the upper body.  Occasionally, there will be multiple bites in a tight line or cluster.  If you experience any reaction, it will usually occur within 1-10 days.  If you experience bites, they will usually heal within a few days if you don’t scratch them.  Speak to a pharmacist or doctor about getting some anti-itch cream to help.

Since bites often don’t get reactions, you may need to look for other indications.  Look carefully in your mattress and linen for eggs.  They will look like small, pale poppy seeds.  You might also recognize their droppings.  Look for small rust-colored or dark brown stains.  The material they fall on usually absorbs them, but they may also form small beads. Large-scale infestations also begin to give off a noticeable odor described as being like coriander.  At higher concentrations, this odor becomes highly unpleasant.

 

Can Alpine Get Rid of Them?

We get asked this question a lot. Unfortunately, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration does not have the proper training to get rid of bed bugs.  That requires an exterminator.  We personally would recommend 5 Star Pest Control.  They have the know-how and tools to get rid of infestations of all kinds, from rodents, to biting insects.  Bed bugs won’t stand a chance.  It is best to call a pest control company rather than try to do it yourself, as bed bugs can easily stow away on clothing, moving from one room of the house to another as you try to get rid of them, and they can go for days and sometimes weeks or months without feeding, depending on the stage of their life cycle. Without professional assistance, it is very difficult to get rid of them.

 

Good Luck!

While we can’t help you get rid of them, we get asked this question enough that we felt it might be a good idea to give some basic information on how to spot them and what to do about it.  For all your other cleaning and restoration needs, feel free to get in touch.  We will be glad to help you out with any problems we’re qualified to deal with. If it’s a pest problem, contact a local extermination company.