Tuesday, March 6, 2018

5 Steps Every Homeowner Should Take After A Blizzard

The storm has passed, but its dangers haven't. Here's how to keep your home, your property and even your neighbors safe and sound after a blizzard.

In addition to beauty, quiet, and days off from school, a heavy snowstorm brings a range of hazards to homes and property, some of which can cause expensive damage or endanger your family. These five steps will help you keep your home and your family safe.

1. Lighten the load on the roof

Head outside and walk the perimeter of your house, looking at the roof line. Are your gutters and eaves decked in icicles? Your roof may be forming an ice dam, where ice freezes into hard ridges that prevent snow melt from draining off your roof. Without anywhere to go, water will find its way into your home. Extreme snowstorms can also stress the roof through the weight of the snow. This is especially true as old snow compacts under fresh snow in subsequent storms. 

If you live in a single-story home, you can help prevent ice dams and reduce stress on your roof by removing snow with a roof rake. If your house is more than one floor, or if you suspect an ice dam has already formed, contact a professional rather than trying to handle it yourself.

2. Clear your walkways

In many cases, property owners may be liable for healthcare costs or other damages if anyone - including neighbors, postal carriers, and solicitors - slips or falls on their property's wintry walkways. In order to prevent injuries to your family and others, make sure to buy a snow shovel and stock up on ice melt before the start of winter, and clear your walkways promptly after a storm. 

If you know a snowstorm is coming, applying ice melt ahead of time can make the removal process easier since it lowers the freezing point of water. When it's time to clear the walkways, shovel away the bulk of the snow first. Then, spread a layer of ice melt and wait for chemistry to kick in. As residual ice and packed snow start to melt, remove it with a shovel or broom, and apply a final layer of ice melt to prevent it from re-freezing. Adding a layer of sand can provide traction, too.

Pro Tip: Commercial ice melt tends to be gentler on plants and landscaping than salt, and there are pet-safe formulations as well. But if you're caught by surprise - or if the winter is so brutal that there's no ice melt to be found - rock salt also works well in a pinch.

3. Clear snow and ice from furnace vents

Because most ways of heating a home can produce deadly carbon monoxide gas, cases of carbon monoxide poisoning tend to spike in winter. This is especially true following heavy snow and ice events because the vents that carry carbon monoxide out of the home can become blocked by snow or freeze over. Gently remove snow from furnace vents, keeping the openings clear so that gasses can vent properly. Remove snow from around your gas, electric, and water meters as well.

4. Check your trees

Heavy snow and ice can bend and break tree branches, causing damage to homes and to the trees themselves. It's best to have an arborist inspect your trees before winter and remove any potentially dangerous branches. But even if you've taken this step, a very heavy snow or ice storm can cause branches to threaten your home or property. 

You can carefully remove snow from sagging tree limbs with a broom or a long pole. Work gently - the cold may have made the branches brittle - and be sure to stand out of the way of the falling snow. 

If your trees are coated in heavy ice, your best bet is to wait for the ice to melt. Trying to chip the ice away will damage the trees. If branches are heavily iced and leaning dangerously over your home, consult an arborist for advice.

5. Give your neighbors a call

Once you've checked your own home for problems, consider contacting your neighbors to make sure they're OK. A power outage or a failed heating system can be particularly dangerous for seniors or people with disabilities. Find out if your neighbors need help clearing their walkways, and if they have enough supplies to last until the snow melts. 

With these steps, you can be sure to keep your family and your neighbors safe until the snow is finally gone.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Keep Employees Healthy This Winter With Better Air Quality

Employers or employees, we sometimes forget that half our lives are being spent in a workspace that is enclosed, and without any exposure to the outside environment. In short, employers and employees are breathing office air for eight hours or more during the day. And when that indoor air is poor quality, health is impacted. Allergy symptoms can be aggravated, worker performance can be diminished, and sick days can start to rise. For all kinds of reasons, it makes good business sense to keep employees healthy in their work environment with excellent quality indoor air.

Air quality professionals often pinpoint poor ventilation as a major problem in the workplace. It simply means that fresh outside air isn’t circulating properly throughout a given space. Even worse, a poorly performing HVAC system might be circulating air pollutants instead of cleaning the air, as it should be doing. Optimum air ventilation in any living space is critical in providing fresh air, while reducing the prevalence of air pollutants. Poor HVAC maintenance is also a culprit when it comes to poor air quality. Here, high performance air filters allow fresh air to circulate.

When workers complain about indoor air quality, it’s also possible that the air-moisture level is too high. This may just be a case of high indoor humidity, but it may also point to some type of water intrusion. Unfortunately, a moist indoor environment is the ideal breeding ground for mould. This could be something serious, and even, so when mould spores disperse through the HVAC system. When it’s diagnosed, a mould problem can turn an air quality issue from basic discomfort to something both dangerous and hazardous. This is a time for professional attention.

In some workplace environments, construction and/or renovation work can affect the air quality with residual dust, airborne particles, and even off gassing from new building materials. Here, the answer is to provide air filtration equipment at the worksite, so that pollutants aren’t circulated and air quality isn’t compromised. Construction work or not, when poor air quality is reported, it’s important to take immediate action. This would be especially pertinent when the indoor air environment is negatively affecting worker health. It often means that workers have difficulty in performing their tasks, and concentrating on the work at hand – it’s just not business productive.

The truth is, poor air quality necessitates comprehensive testing. And here, an expert technician can identify the source and extent of a problem – whether it’s mould, asbestos, or any other air pollutant that can make someone sick. With reliable test data, a professional air quality firm can identify the scope of indoor air pollution, and provide options for improvement and remediation. While some business owners might decide on a DIY approach in order to save budget dollars, it will not compare with the comprehensive work that highly trained professionals can provide.

The professionals do it right from the start. They thoroughly inspect the air quality issue. They provide accurate assessments/reporting. And they recommend options with effective solutions.

If you want a professional to inspect and or sample your workplace then give us a call! Inspect it All Services is fully qualified in indoor air testing, mold testing and mold remediation.