Holiday cleaning tips!


The holiday season is upon us and Team Newman has a few tips to be prepared and clean during your holiday celebrations.


Be stocked on cleaning supplies – Nothing is worse than getting into the cleaning rhythm and running out of an important supply. This can diminish your cleaning motivation and take up a lot of time to run to the store! Be stocked up so there are no bumps in the road.


Set out extra trash cans – If you are having a gathering for the holidays and want cleanup to be easier, set out a few extra trash receptacles. When people have an easy way to tidy up they are more likely to do it! Most of us keep our trash in or around the kitchen and that can be a busy place. Put a trash receptacle out where people are congregating and make it easy for them to throw stuff away!


Empty out your fridge to make room for ingredients and leftovers – It is best to get rid of the expired items before you go grocery shopping. When you come home you do not have to negotiate a packed fridge and you can easily find space for the important stuff. It is also nice to have some room for leftovers from the holiday party.


Remove the clutter – Often the easiest way to make a space look cleaner is to remove the clutter. Take those items you will not be using off the kitchen counter. Tidy up the spaces your guests will occupy and it can make a major improvement in a short amount of time. 


Make sure the small things are easily accessible – If you are having guests over, keep some spare paper towels laying around so a mess can be cleaned up easily. Keep coasters in plain sight so people will use them. 


Have the bathroom fully stocked – This area will experience more traffic with the holiday season. Be sure to have plenty of hand soap and toilet paper. Nothing is worse than going to the restroom and being without a square to spare.


Make sure guests follow your rules! And give them some hints – If you would like guests to remove their shoes upon entering your home, have a place for them to put their shoes. Make it easy for people to follow the rules that will help you keep a clean home. It is also nice to have a space where guests can store their winter jackets. 


Be cautious of ice dams forming this winter


As winter progresses, it is important to pay attention to ice damming and the issues it can cause.


Ice dams are a buildup of ice and snow on a roof, often on the lower portion and extend over the edge and gutters – Snow on the roof melts and freezes creating an ice dam. An issue occurs when the melting snow is trapped and can not release from the roof. It can penetrate through the shingles and create water damage on the interior of the home.


Ice dams can occur from direct sunlight and or heat coming from inside the home – If the attic or space below the roof is creating too much heat it can often be resolved with a few fixes. The first step is to improve insulation. This can be done by fixing holes or gaps in the insulation or replacing it with a higher value. This keeps the home warmer and the attic space cooler. Ventilating the space can also help if too much warm air is hitting the roof from underneath.


Keep your roof clear after a snowfall – Utilizing a roof rake to eliminate snow buildups is a way of preventing ice dams from occurring. Be cautious because snow can come down quickly and is quite heavy. It is also a good step to keep gutters clear of debris as it can impede the runoff when snow melts. 


Chip away ice if it can be done safely or use a professional to melt the ice – The majority of the issue with ice dams comes from the ice buildup. If possible, chip away the ice buildup or search for a local company to help with the removal of an ice dam.


Create a channel for the snow to melt with an ice melt product – The melting snow needs a path to escape off the roof. Creating a channel through the buildup with an ice melt product is one possible solution. Often this can be difficult with frozen and snowy roofs being too dangerous to access.


Do not forget about dryer vent cleaning


A sweep of the dryer vent needs to be completed yearly. A clogged dryer vent can develop multiple issues for a home.


Fire hazard – A clogged dryer vent is a severe fire hazard. If heat from the dryer cannot vent properly, lint is susceptible to igniting. Protect your home by ensuring the dryer vent is cleaned regularly and always empty out the lint trap after each use.


Increase efficiency – A clogged dryer vent will increase drying times. This will increase the electrical bill. A clean dryer vent will promote efficiency and allow for the clothes to dry faster. Shorter dry times also prevent extra wear and tear on the dryer. 


Improved air quality – If a dryer vent is clogged, humidity can build up in and around the dryer. This can cause microbial growth in and around the unit. Microbial growth can worsen indoor air quality and sometimes requires an expensive fix.


Signs a dryer vent needs to be cleaned – Clothes taking longer to dry than normal is a sign the dryer vent needs to be cleaned. A burning smell or mildew smell is another good indicator. Also, extra lint buildup is a sign of a dryer vent becoming more clogged. If these signs are observed, it is imperative to get the dryer vent cleaned out.


Thanksgiving Safety


Team Newman wants to wish all of Newman Nation a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

We have prepared a few Thanksgiving safety tips to ensure it is a safe holiday for all celebrating.

Do not leave your cooking unattended – When using your cooktop indoors, keep an eye on what you are cooking, especially when frying or broiling. It can only take a few seconds for a disaster to happen.

Be cautious of what is in the kitchen when preparing your holiday meals (especially pets and children) – When the family is gathered in and around the kitchen over the holidays, it is important to keep a close watch for any over-ambitious children or pets who might want an early taste of the meal to come. Also, a kitchen can become cluttered with ingredients and dishes brought by others. Make sure items are not kept close to the stovetop as they present an ignition danger.

Utilize timers as a reminder – Not only does using a timer help ensure your food is not overcooked, it can also save you from a disaster. A beeping timer has saved plenty of meals but can also prevent a fire or smoke disaster in the kitchen.

Check temperatures – When cooking large quantities of meat, it is important to make sure they are cooked properly. It is always a good idea to check the internal temperatures of meat to ensure they are safe to eat! Do not handle raw and cooked meat at the same time, this can cause a cross contamination of food.

Invest in a home fire extinguisher – A home fire extinguisher is a great idea year-round. For the holiday season, make sure your fire extinguisher is not damaged and placed in an easy to reach location.

Find a sober ride home – It is easy to have one too many when surrounded by friends and family! Make plans before your festivities to have a sober driver or utilize a taxi or ride sharing app


Information on frozen pipes


With winter comes the risk of frozen and burst pipes. Knowing how and why frozen pipes occur can help you prevent them in your own home.


Water expands when it freezes causing cracks or ruptures in water lines – When the temperature drops to below freezing, it is possible that a pipe will crack or rupture. If a water line is damaged, it might now show until the temperature warms up or it can cause a sudden rupture. A slow leak from a cracked pipe may take months or even years to discover. 


A frozen pipe will alter water pressure and a build up of pressure can lead to a pipe burst  – Low water pressure can be a sign of a frozen pipe. A frozen section of pipe often creates a blockage that develops a high volume of water pressure behind it and low pressure coming out of the tap. As the pressure builds, it can cause the pipe to fail.


Inconsistent water flow from the taps are a sign of an issue – A sudden burst of water out of the tap or a slow trickle is a sign that there is an issue. It is good practice to check taps, faucets and spigots for proper water flow.


Avoid letting the temperature drop too low – It is important to keep the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature to avoid frozen pipes. A common mistake is to turn off all heat to a home when leaving the house for a few days. This is all the time that is needed for a pipe to freeze and burst.


Make checking your home part of your routine – Slow leaks can go unnoticed if they occur in a part of the home that is not used with regularity. Check storage areas and utility rooms daily for possible leaks or water damage. Is the basement usually colder than the rest of your home? If so, this area is at a higher level of risk for frozen pipes and water damage.


Stay alert for slow leaks


Checking your home for slow leaks should be completed once a week. This step can catch water damage before it turns into a much larger issue. Slow leaks develop microbial growth and often deteriorate building materials, resulting in significant repairs.


Kitchen appliances – One of the most common sources of a slow water leak is the dishwashing machine. Water will leak and pool underneath the dishwasher and soak into the floor and nearby cabinets and drywall. In many cases, a dishwasher leak is not detected until the flooring is warping or bubbling and develops a stench. You can be proactive and check under the dishwasher after it has run and look for any water. Along with dishwashers, refrigerators and ice makers can develop slow leaks. It is imperative to check underneath them once a week to look for standing water.


Under and around sinks – Sinks are another common source of a slow leak. Water can drip into cabinets and vanities below sinks and will absorb water. These areas are a common spot to find microbial growth from a slow water leak. Regularly check around and underneath sinks to detect water damage.


Toilets – The toilet supply line is another source of slow water leaks. If the plumbing into the toilet is not properly attached, water can drip onto the bathroom floor and become a source for microbial growth. After a toilet runs, check along the supply line and ensure there is no moisture build up around the toilet.


Exterior Walls – In the spring, snowmelt can enter a home near the foundation. Water will follow the path of least resistance, which can often be a foundation crack. Check the exterior walls of your home to see if any water has built up in carpets, flooring or unfinished areas of the basement. Water entering the home through the foundation can also warp drywall and create microbial growth on trim pieces. 


Ceilings and attics – Ice dams are a common occurrence in the winter time. An ice dam can create a slow water leak into the home through the roof and into the ceiling. Regularly inspect ceilings for any signs of paint bubbles. If it is safe to do so, check the attic and see if any moisture is impacting insulation or framing materials.


Crawl spaces – The crawl space of a home is susceptible to slow leaks and water damage. Ground water can enter a crawl space and also enter via a foundation crack. Water lines in a crawlspace are vulnerable to cracks and leaks. This can create an opportunity for microbial growth to occur. If it is safe to do so, regularly check the crawl space for water and water damage. 


Humidifiers or water purification systems – These water systems, often found in the basement of a home can be a source of water damage. It is good to ensure the proper maintenance is followed for humidifiers and water purification systems. Check around these systems to ensure they are not leaking.


Concerned about slow leaks? – If you are concerned or your home is vulnerable to slow leaks, invest in water detection equipment. Moisture meters and thermal cameras can help detect water in building materials that is not visible to the naked eye. 


Understand your insurance coverage – In many policies, slow leaks will not be covered or may only be covered from specific sources. It is important to know where your gaps in coverage are and to increase coverage for peace of mind.


Be ready for the holiday season with a professional carpet cleaning


Professional carpet cleaning is the perfect way to maintain a substantial investment made in a home. Especially when entering the colder months of the year, a professional carpet cleaning can improve the look and health of your carpets.


Extend the life of a carpet – A professional carpet cleaning improves the lifespan of a carpet. It is often a requirement to maintain the warrant of a newly installed carpet. If done correctly, a carpet cleaning will remove dirt and debris from the carpet that can cause permanent damage if left to stay. Ever notice traffic lanes start to develop in a carpet? A professional carpet cleaning can help these areas spring back and last longer without wearing out. It is important to get rid of the dirt and debris that builds up over the winter.


Develop a healthier in-home environment – Allergens, dirt and bacteria become trapped in a carpet from regular use. A professional cleaning can thoroughly reduce the amount of contamination built-up in a carpet and create a healthier environment. It can also reduce odors that are emanating from a carpet. Your carpet can act as a filter for the air in your home. You do not want to go an entire year without getting that filter cleaned. 


Improve the look of a carpet – One of the most noticeable benefits of a professional carpet cleaning is the improved look. A cleaning can remove staining and brighten the look of a carpet. It also revitalizes worn down traffic lanes. Don’t be hesitant to invite guests over because the carpet looks worn down. A professional cleaning will make your carpet look much younger.


Add a carpet protector – After a professional cleaning is the best time to add carpet protector. This is an option with most professional cleaning companies. It can protect against the buildup of stains and dirt. It also allows your vacuum to work more efficiently and will leave your carpet looking cleaner for longer.


Winter weather allows for water to penetrate foundation imperfections


Fluctuating temperatures and precipitation can allow for water to penetrate foundation imperfections. Water follows the path of least resistance which can push groundwater through a hole or crack in the foundation. It is important to check exterior walls of a home or business for any moisture and a slow leak can turn into big damages. Discovering a problem with the foundation of a building can be an unsettling situation, but Team Newman is here with some helpful information so you can be educated about what to do with if you suspect water is coming through a foundation crack.


Vertical cracks are the most common – As a home settles, it is typical for vertical cracks to develop. Vertical cracks are found most often in basement walls and are typically the easiest type of foundation crack to fix. The main issue that comes with vertical cracks is how they allow for water to penetrate the foundation. However, a foundation waterproofing injection can solve the issue and prevent interior water damage.


Diagonal crack may point to bigger issues – If a foundation crack has an angle from 30-75 degrees, it is considered a diagonal crack. These can be caused from the foundation settling in an uneven manner. If water does not drain properly from one side of the house, it can cause the soil to compact more on one side and create a diagonal foundation crack. Along with fixing the crack, additional steps may need to be considered to ensure the cause of the uneven foundation settling is addressed. Landscaping and drainage issues often need to be addressed. A diagonal crack can also require a structural fix to ensure the integrity of the foundation.


Horizontal crack can cause issues with structural integrity – This is the most serious type of foundation crack. Pressure on the foundation wall can cause it to bow inwards. This can lead to the failure of the foundation and collapse of the property. It is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed right away. Fixing a horizontal crack is often a major project. It can involve installing anchors or piers to prevent any further bowing to prevent the foundation from failing.


Fix it when you have the chance – When a crack is discovered, it is best to seal it right away. If a crack is left unattended, it can grow and lead to a more costly repair. A horizontal foundation crack may require that the property be evacuated until it can be fixed. Many vertical cracks can be sealed with a waterproofing injection. Horizontal and diagonal cracks may need a structural fix if recommended by a structural engineer. 


Be on the lookout for signs of a structural issue – Water or added humidity in a basement or crawl space is a common sign that there is a foundation crack allowing for water penetration. Pungent or musty odors are also an indication that water is entering the property through a slow leak or foundation crack. Cracks in plaster walls and doors that no longer open easily are a sign that the foundation is settling in an uneven matter. These signs are a good reason to have your home and foundation inspected. 


Water damage from foundation cracks may not be covered by insurance – Many homeowners are not protected from foundation cracks and the ensuing water damage. Because the water is coming from outside the home, many insurance carriers will deny coverage. It is always best to have an understanding of your liabilities or gap in insurance coverage. Often, a flood insurance policy can protect homeowners from water damage due to an outside source. However, it is important to cover the topic with your specific insurance company.


Understanding your insurance policy


Water, fire and mold can impact a home in many different ways and leave the property owners with an expensive bill for remediation. Having insurance coverage can protect property owners from a large bill. However, policies are different and have a variety of protections and gaps depending on the plan. It is important for policy owners to know their coverages and exposures in their insurance policy.


File a claim quickly – Water, fire and mold damage can get worse if it is left unattended. Filing a claim starts the process with an insurance company and they will determine if the damage is covered. It is important to contact insurance right away as it may take time for them to send out an adjuster and make a determination. Fire damage claims can take longer if an investigation is required. Some types of damage will also have claim limits so it is important to know those limits when starting a restoration project.


Sudden ruptures or failures – Homeowners insurance covers sudden ruptures and failures of plumbing. This often comes in the form of a burst pipe or broken water line. These occurrences can create a large claim in a short period of time. Depending on the policy, repairing the broken plumbing can be the responsibility of the homeowner. Code upgrades may also be an expense for the homeowner depending on policy and extent of damage.


Accidental water damage – Homeowners insurance will often cover accidental water damage. This can come from a sink or bath overflowing and damaging the property. It is important to address issues with accidental water damage right away. In many cases, the water damage will be covered but any microbial growth from lingering damage will not be covered. 


Mechanical failures – A sudden failure of an appliance is often covered by a home insurance policy. Some appliances have warranties that cover damage. If your appliance is being installed by a professional company, ask about their coverage period after installation. In some instances the insurance company will investigate the broken appliance to determine coverage.


Leaks – This is an area where coverage will depend on the specific policy. Slow leaks from a pipe, plumbing or water line will be covered by some policies and not covered by others. Slow leaks can linger for a long time before damage is noticed. This can result in a large bill, especially if the slow leak occurs inside a wall or in a crawlspace or attic. Slow leaks often develop microbial growth which makes the restoration project more expensive. 


Microbial growth – Microbial growth can often be outside of a homeowners insurance policy. Policies may also have a coverage limit when it comes to microbial growth. Mold remediation work can result in a large bill. This might be an area where homeowners want to extend their policies coverage or up limits.


External water source – Water damage coming from outside the home is a common exclusion from policies. Water coming from a flood or through a foundation crack is a typical out-of-pocket expense when it comes to water damage. Separate flood insurance may need to be purchased to have coverage from these sources.


Sewer backup – Sewer damage resulting from a backup is another common policy exclusion. Coverage can be denied for a lack of maintenance (tree roots growing through lines is a common cause) or because it originated from an outside source (city main line). Like microbial growth, additional coverage or increasing limits for sewer damage can be an important discussion to have when deciding or changing an insurance policy.


Roof damage – A water intrusion coming from roof damage is often covered under a home insurance policy. Damage from hail or ice dams can lead to water damage in the ceiling or attic. In most cases, the roof damage will need to be inspected by an adjuster. 


Review your home insurance policy and find coverage gaps – It is important to know where gaps exist in a policy. This allows the policy holder to add additional coverage and avoid any surprises when dealing with water damage. 


Renters insurance – If you are renting, do you know what would happen to your personal items if they were damaged by water or fire? In most cases, a renter policy will protect your belongings. The property owner will have insurance for the rental property and this will not cover the personal items of the renter, just the structure itself. So having a solid renter insurance policy will protect your valuables.


Be prepared for the incoming cold weather


Team Newman has a few tips and ideas to help keep your home heated efficiently as we all prepare for the incoming cold weather. 


Check rubber seals around windows and doors – Preventing drafts from windows and doors is a key to keeping a home warm in the winter. Damaged or missing window seals can allow the warm air to leak outside the home or cold air to draft inside. If a door is letting in a draft from below, there are a few quick fixes to help keep in the warn air. There are many products sold to stop a drafty door, but a rolled up towel can be effective temporarily. 


Invest in a programmable thermostat – A programmable thermostat can be a money saving investment. Many new units have eco modes that can be programmed and use a time setting to gently heat the home before you arrive. They are also convenient to check on the home when you are away as they often come with a mobile app.


Clean air duct system – A clean duct system allows the warm air to travel throughout the entire home in an efficient manner. It also saves on wear and tear for the HVAC system. Team Newman recommends having a professional duct cleaning every three years. It is also important to have a HVAC company inspect your furnace if you are concerned about efficacy or efficiency. Newer systems have been proven to heat the home more effectively with less impact on the electrical bill.


Utilize a fireplace or wood burning stove – This is another option to heat a home for low cost, especially if you have a supply of firewood. Make sure that a well used chimney is swept once a year to allow for smoke to draft properly and to prevent a dangerous creosote buildup. A chimney sweep also puts your mind at ease knowing that you have mitigated risk of a dangerous buildup. Plus, who  doesn’t enjoy the crackle of a fire during a long winter evening. 


Move furniture away from vents – When trying to heat your home, blocked vents can limit efficiency. Furniture too close to a vent will actually absorb heat and keep it from heating the home. Make sure vents are free of any obstructions to allow for the proper dispersion of warm air. Couches are the main culprit of heat absorption as they can often be placed in front of a vent and they are prone to absorbing warm air and not allowing it to distribute around the room efficiently. 


Utilize your curtains – Sunlight can bring warmth into a home. Keep curtains open during the day to allow sunlight into the home. Keep curtains closed when the sun goes down to keep as much warm air in the home as possible overnight. 


Do not let the temperature drop below 50 – If the temperature gets too low in a home it can create a frozen pipe. Make sure to check the basement daily because it is often the coldest area in a home. Even if the thermostat is reading above 50 degrees, it is possible for other sections of the home to be much colder. Having a few thermometers placed around the home is an excellent way to monitor temperatures and make sure you are avoiding dangerously low temperatures. 


Use your ceiling fan – It may seem counterintuitive, but running a ceiling fan in reverse can pull cold air up and recirculate the warm air. It is another way to efficiently keep your home heated. Allowing warm air to circulate the home is extremely beneficial for heating it efficiently. 

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