Spring Storms Bring Musty Smell Inside

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When people think about protecting their homes from spring storms, they usually give more consideration to their roofs than their basements. However, heavy rain falls also mean there is a greater chance for flooding in crawlspaces and basements. While flooding is an obvious problem in a finished space; it’s just as important to keep crawlspaces and unfinished areas dry to avoid a musty smell.

Don’t Dismiss the Dangers of a Damp Basement

Even small amounts of water can cause foundation damage, mold growth, musty smells and damage to tools and furniture. Whether from a flood, a small leak or a just excess humidity, a wet basement creates some serious issues:

  1. Mold and mildew: The growth of mold and mildew is what causes the familiar musty smell in basements and crawlspaces. However, mold also releases spores which can aggravate asthma and allergy conditions. In rare cases, exposure has even led to life threatening compilations in those with severe allergies or weakened immune systems.
  2. Bugs, rodents and pests: A damp crawlspace or basement provides a welcoming environment for pests. Bugs and rodents appreciate the sheltered space with access to water – perfect for breeding. Some critters will even feed or gnaw on the exposed wood structure of a home, causing severe damage.
  3. Oxidation: High relative humidity in a basement can lead to rust on tools and other metal objects; damaging their appearance and performance. Excessive moisture in the air can also cause electronics to fail. If homeowners get a whiff of a musty smell, many items in the basement may be at risk.

What You Can Do to keep it Dry

Earlier in the year, the South, plains and Midwest all experienced their share of storms, according to MSN News. More recently, Houston saw wide spread flooding after record rain fall in the month of May. Even when spring weather events don’t cause rivers to break their banks, they still cause increased saturation of the ground around houses. Humidity levels also rise in the spring, which can create moisture problems and musty smells, even in homes with well-sealed foundations. Protecting a basement or crawlspace requires defending against both types of moisture infiltration.

  • Patch and seal: If the source of a leak is obvious and fairly small, homeowners can perform some patching and repairs on their own to prevent leaks. However, if cracks are widespread or there are signs that foundation damage has already occurred, it’s best to call a professional.
  • Clear drains and install a sump pump: If a home has a clogged French drain or no sump pump, then there is nowhere for the water to go. Even if a small amount of water sits on the floor for a period of time, the situation can create a musty smell.
  • Dehumidify the air: While pumps and drains can remove water from the floor, the only successful way to reduce moisture in the air is with a dehumidifier. Basements and crawlspaces usually have the highest RH levels in the home, which is why a musty smell is so common. Purchasing a high-capacity dehumidifier that can meet the demand is essential.

While it’s great to see that spring has arrived and summer is on its way, the muggy days ahead can cause serious problems in basements and crawlspaces. Homeowners should act now to protect their homes from musty smells, insect infestations and structural damage.

Why Allergy Symptoms will be ‘Brutal’ in Spring 2015

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“It’s going to be the worst ever.” Allergy sufferers hear that comment every year. However, according to experts on the today show, conditions actually are ripe for a brutal allergy season in 2015. A warm fall coupled with a wet and cold winter often causes trees and flowers to produce more pollen.  A higher pollen count means more allergy symptoms for the millions of Americans that suffer each year.  The key to surviving this spring is preparing early.

Build An Arsenal Now!

It’s easier to prevent a fire than put one out, and that should be the thinking when preparing for spring. Seasonal allergy symptoms are the body’s overactive immune response to pollen in the air. Once this response is activated, it’s hard to turn off, according to WebMD. Allergy pretreatment is one great step toward feeling comfortable this spring.

Top Tips for March Allergy Preparation 

Get an early start: Depending on where you live, the time to start pretreatment with medicine will vary. For folks in the Northeast and Midwest, March or early April is a good time to begin. In the southern U.S., sufferers may want to start taking antihistamines even earlier. Thirty days prior to the usual onset of one’s allergy symptoms is a good benchmark.

Know your enemy: Even if a person doesn’t wish to pursue allergy shots or prescription medications, knowing what causes his or her allergy symptoms is essential to winning the battle. A trip to an allergist can quickly identify which types of pollen a person is most sensitive too. Armed with that knowledge, it’s time to watch the allergy forecast.

Avoid allergy triggers: Allergy sufferers have a large selection of news outlets, websites and apps that report pollen levels – and even what plant species are currently the most active. Checking these daily reports can help one decide if it would better to postpone the day trip to the lake or the stroll in the park until certain pollen counts fall. 

Improve your indoor air: Even when a person’s allergy symptoms are a response to pollen from outdoors, bringing those irritants inside is easy. Pollen sticks to hair, clothes and pets and can infiltrate indoor air. When this happens, even the home offers no respite from allergy symptoms. A whole-home air purifier can trap and remove the majority of airborne pollen before a person breathes it in. 

This spring, control your allergies before they control you. Pretreatment, avoidance of triggers and cleaner air are good ways to start this season off on a comfortable note.

Spring Home Checklist: Your “Honey Do” list has arrived!

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Your “Honey Do” list has arrived! Below are some important and relatively easy home maintenance projects you can complete in a few weekends. Print this page out and hang it on the fridge and check them off as you go.

  1. Inspect your foundation: From outside your house (and inside if you have a basement) inspect your home’s foundation for cracks.
  2. Look in the Attic: Especially if it’s unfinished, the attic may be a place you rarely venture. However, like the basement, it says a lot about your house. Look for leaks, and signs of rodents or bugs. Also look for mold, which may appear as gray or black stains.
  3. Check the Gutters: No one wants to go out in a storm. But the next time a moderate rain blows through, throw on a slicker and take a quick walk around your house. Confirm that water is making it to the down spouts and not running off the sides or over the top of the gutter.
  4. Service the Air Conditioner: A spring check of the cooling equipment should be performed each year. Clean coils and maintained equipment run more efficiently and last longer.
  5. Use a Pressure Washer: While spring cleaning is going on inside – there is plenty to do outside as well. A pressure washer is a great way to remove algae, mold, dirt and other stains from a house with vinyl, aluminum or other engineered siding.
  6. Repair Cracks and Potholes: In cold climates, ice and snow do a number on sidewalks and driveways. Fill in or patch any defects that could lead to injury for you, a loved one or a passerby.
  7. Inspect Your Deck: Take a look under your deck and make sure there are no rotted boards or broken supports. This could be dangerous when you invite a big group over for a BBQ.
  8. Reset the Patio: Prevent stubbing your toe or tripping your mother-in-law by leveling out raised or sunken bricks. You will need paver sand, a trowel and a level.
  9. Sharpen your Lawn Tools: Grab a file and put a nice new edge on the blade of lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and other gardening instruments.
  10. Perform General Indoor Cleaning: Deep cleaning carpets and dusting hard to reach places can remove allergens and other irritants. A whole-home air cleaner also helps trap dust and allergens as they travel through the house.

Spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoor world!

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Spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoor world; hiking, biking and planting your gardens! Here are some great ideas on what to plant to invite wildlife into your yard.
http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife/Gardening-Tips/How-to-Attract-Butterflies-to-Your-Garden.aspx

And don’t forget to check out these tips for attracting butterflies from the National Wildlife Federation.
http://www.nwf.org/pdf/Certified-Wildlife-Habitat/Attracting%20butterflies_1-13_sm.pdf

How is the air in your home?

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We tend to think of air pollution as an outdoor problem impacting mostly large cities – and we feel safe and protected inside our homes. However, a recent article by Consumer Affairs says that is far from the truth, especially in newer, tighter houses. Without improved ventilation, The American Lung Association warns that air pollution in the home can lead to asthma, infections and even cancer. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/indoor-pollution-a-bigger-threat-in-winter-120414.html

Top 5 Ways to Weather Winter Storms

February started off with a winter storm that delivered hazardous driving conditions and frigid temperatures from Kansas to Michigan; dumping 20 inches of snow in some areas before setting its sights on the snow-weary Northeast, The Weather Channel reports.

The latest round of snow is a sure sign the 2015 Blizzard season is underway and homeowners need to prepare for even more winter weather in the coming weeks. Staying safe during a winter storm requires common sense as well as preparation.

Don’t Get Buried – Prepare Early

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Digging out after a winter storm is less stressful when families are prepared ahead of time.

While people rush to hardware and grocery stores after hearing a forecast for a winter storm, there is no need to wait until the last minute. It’s a good idea to pick up last-minute essentials such as food, but preparing for the winter storm season requires being ready for every snow event, not just the big one.

  1. Prepare for power failures: Stock up on batteries for flashlights and small lanterns. Also keep candles on hand as they provide light and some heat.
  2. Keep out the cold: Add insulation to water pipes to prevent freezing in a power outage. Increasing attic insulation and investing in new windows also helps keep warm air in and cold air out.
  3. Be ready to stay indoors: February often means spending increased time indoors. With the continued heating of the home, dry air can become a problem that leads to decreased comfort, health issues and damage to the home. Humidifiers are the most effective way to add moisture to a home’s air.
  4. Inspect your car: Maintaining tires and batteries are two of the best investments commuters can make in the winter. An engine that is slow to turnover is a major sign a battery is failing. However, a battery should be replaced or inspected after 3 years even if it appears to be working fine, according to Firestone. To check tire condition, use the penny test. Simply place a penny in the tread and if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for a new set of all-season tires.
  5. Shop before the snow arrives: Even in northern parts of the country, homeowners often wait until a winter storm hits to check the snow blower or replace last year’s broken shovel. Purchasing or repairing these items early in the season can keep a family a step ahead when hazardous weather arrives, since stores struggle to keep these items on the shelf during a blizzard.

Winterizing a home and car can reduce the impact of the winter storms that are sure to continue throughout February. Don’t leave safety and comfort at the mercy of Mother Nature this year, prepare today.