How to Prevent Puff Backs From Your Fireplace

A frosty Chicago winter evening spent next to a roaring fireplace can be very enjoyable. But that occasion can become a disaster if your fireplace begins spewing smoke into your home’s interior. When that occurs, it may be the result of a puff back. This could occur only once per season or it may happen every time you start a fire.

The results of puff backs are terrible. The smoke can damage all surfaces it touches. A foul odor permeates the environment while the air becomes dangerously contaminated with carcinogens and carbon monoxide. Additionally, smoke particles lodge in curtains, clothing and carpeting.

The good news is that fireplace back puffs are preventable. But what causes them?

Back Puff Causes and Cures

 

Cause: Creosote buildup

Creosote is a byproduct of fireplace smoke. It builds up inside a fireplace flue every time the fireplace is lit, growing thicker and thicker. The creosote causes your chimney to generate more smoke then can be exhausted, allowing the smoke to travel the path of least resistance – back into your home.

Cure: Hire a chimney sweep

A CSIA-certified chimney sweep can inspect and identify creosote accumulation. If it’s a problem, you’ll need to have your chimney swept, which will remove creosote buildup and restore your chimney to its peak working condition.

 

Cause: Lack of air supply

While a well-insulated home is more energy efficient, a tightly-sealed home could actually “suffocate” your stove or fireplace, resulting in negative air pressure inside. This could cause the fireplace to release smoke into your home. Fire needs oxygen to burn and a tightly sealed home will limit the flow of air into the fireplace.

Cure: Introduce air flow

Before lighting your next fire, simply open a window. Back puffing should discontinue if the issue was caused by an inadequate air supply.

 

Problem: Obstructions

If your chimney is blocked, it’ll restrict airflow and smoke will build up in the flue until it’s exhausted through your fireplace or stove. Bird and wasp nests built inside a chimney can restrict its airflow, along with balls and tree branches.

Cure: Clean the chimney

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have your chimney, fireplace, and vents inspected and cleaned annually, regardless of whether back puffs occur or not.

 

Problem: Unsuitable firewood

You may be trying to burn wet wood which can produce more smoke than usual. To burn efficiently, the fire needs to first burn off any excess moisture within the wood. The higher the moisture content of the wood, the harder it’ll be to burn.

Cure: Use seasoned wood

Wood needs to be dry to burn efficiently. Wood that’s freshly cut is high in moisture content, which is why wood needs to be dried out (known as seasoning) for 12 to 18 months before it’s ready to be used on a fire without causing smoke issues.

 

Sometimes, a badly built fireplace can cause smoke problems. All aspects of a fireplace, such as its opening size, smoke chamber, smoke shelf, damper size and chimney height, must be built without design and construction flaws in order to prevent smoke buildup.

When your fireplace pours smoke into your home, the resulting damage can be significant. Rather than replace fouled up belongings that have been contaminated with smoke particles, consult your Chicagoland smoke damage cleanup company, ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons. Our fire and smoke damage restoration technicians will remove all traces of smoke from your property.

 

 

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

 

 

Concentrating on Cleaning Products Can Save You Money

is-bleach-a-safe-disinfectant?

Riddle: When is a gallon of all-purpose cleaner not a gallon of all-purpose cleaner?

 

Answer: When it’s really 20 gallons.

 

Puzzled? Consider this: usually when you purchase a gallon of a product, that’s all you get. If you buy a gallon of gas, you get a gallon of gas; buy a gallon of milk and you’ll only get a gallon of milk. But many cleaners, disinfectants and deodorizers you use to clean your Chicago area home or office are sold as concentrates. If you buy those and mix them correctly, you’ll greatly increase the usable amount of product, making them very inexpensive. Depending on the product, sometimes one gallon of concentrate can produce up to a hundred gallons of a RTU (ready to use) cleaner. So that 99¢ jug of RTU glass cleaner at your local Chicagoland box store might not really be such a terrific deal after all.

It might be enticing to try to make the concentrated cleaning products you buy go even further by diluting them more than recommended. But the suggested concentration dilution rate is much more cost efficient than watering them down because weakened chemicals take longer to do the job and you would probably have to repeat the cleaning process to accomplish the desired results. Your time is valuable; add that to the additional aggravation and you wouldn’t be saving a dime.

 

Precise Mixing Makes a Difference

 

Clearly, concentrates necessitate adding water to dilute them according to the precise directions on the product labels. Most comprehend that, but the means of communicating the amount of water to mix with the concentrate can be a little more complicated and leaves room for error.

For instance, the common method for stating dilution rates is by using ratios, but occasionally you need more info. For example, which does a ratio of 1:8 mean? Is it:

  • one part concentrate mixed with seven parts water to produce eight parts of solution?
  • one part concentrate mixed with eight parts water to produce make nine parts solution?

You need to get it right because, in this particular example, an error adds up to a 12.5% variance! That means either your cleaning effectiveness will decrease 12.5% or your costs will increase 12.5%, neither of which is a desired result.

What’s confusing is that each way of describing the ratios shown above is defensible. So always examine product labels for a thorough explanation of its mixing ratio. If details aren’t included, then go to the source and contact the manufacturer. It’s worth a little extra effort.

 

Help for Deep Cleaning

 

When it comes to deep cleaning, sometimes you need a little help. And with Covid-19, using the required disinfectants is vital. Without question, virus cleaning, removal, and disinfection services are foremost in the thoughts of many homeowners and business owners throughout the Chicagoland area today. ServiceMaster By Simons uses an EPA hospital-grade disinfectant that fights 99.99% of bacteria so that you as a business or homeowner can have peace of mind whether you work inside or outside your home.

 

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

 

Water Damage Invites Termites Into Your Chicagoland Property

You’re probably already aware that water damage is more than a nuisance. It may also elicit severe damage to your Chicagoland home or business. But there’s another side effect of water damage you might not know about. It also attracts insects – both the kind that can cause disease and those that can destroy your home.

The types of bugs that are drawn to water damage include carpenter ants, termites, silverfish, beetles, roaches, etc. They enter a building when its walls and foundation are weakened by water damage, using electrical wires as superhighways throughout a structure. The insects that can cause the most destruction are termites. But what attracts them to a water damaged structure?           

Termites, like other insects, need to be surrounded by moisture to survive. Normally they live underground in cool, damp environments, so water soaked wood makes a perfect replacement home for them while supplying them with an almost endless buffet. That’s why water damage that’s ignored can promote termite infestation in any structure.                     

Termite infestations are extremely destructive to a property and expensive to fix. Usually they call for a whole-house treatment. The problem can start unnoticeably and often an owner won’t even be aware of the damage until he hires a professional restoration service like Chicago’s own ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons to do a water damage inspection.

 

 

The Experts Chime In

The University of Kentucky’s College of Food and Agriculture wrote a highly informative Q&A article on termite infestations. In it they talk about what and how much damage termites can do to a home, what a homeowner can do if there’s an infestation, and how difficult it can be for homeowners to ascertain if termites have infested their home or business at the early stage of infestation: 

“Oftentimes, there will be no clear indication of infestation. Termites are cryptic creatures and infestations can go undetected for years, hidden behind walls, floor coverings, insulation, and other obstructions. Termite feeding and damage can even progress undetected in exposed wood because the outer surface usually remains intact. Confirmation of termites often requires the keen eye of a professional — however, even the most experienced inspector can overlook signs that are hidden.”

As previously mentioned, termites love moisture and humidity. If a home or business isn’t adequately ventilated or has unrepaired leaks, a termite infestation can take place. That’s why the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns against not repairing leaks and water damage sources immediately. On the EPA official website, they discuss how to prevent these pests from invading your home.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) also emphasizes the termite’s love for wet weather, moisture, and humidity. It indicates that pests, including termites, could swarm during wet and warm weather. Pestworld.org published this NPMA warning:

“Residual winter moisture will create ideal conditions for mosquito larval habitats to form in standing water and will allow termite populations to flourish. With [rainy weather], expect increased cockroach and ant pressure as they move indoors for shelter.”

The bottom line to all this information is simple; never, ever, allow water damage that’s occurred to your Chicago area home or business go unrepaired. It must be addressed immediately to avoid an infestation of termites and other damage from wreaking havoc to property. Call the water damage cleanup professionals at ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons immediately whenever water damage occurs. Whether the destruction is large or small, we can take care of it.

 

 

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

How HEPA Filters Protect You

 

During World War II, the Atomic Energy Commission needed a filter that would remove and trap radio-active dust particles that would pose a health hazard to scientists working on the Manhattan Project, the classified U.S. government venture that developed the atomic bomb. That’s when and why the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter was created.

The HEPA filter was specifically designed to protect the human respiratory system. Because it’s made of ultra-fine, glass-fiber materials, it captures microscopic particles that can pass through other filters easily. It will filter out 99.97% of the 0.3-micron particles in the air. Particles that size are nearly 300 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and 25 to 50 times tinier than the human eye can see. But to a HEPA filter, catching a one-micron particle (1/1,000,000 of a meter) is comparable to stopping a cotton ball with a door screen.

HEPA filters are viewed as the highest form of air filtration. Hospitals, laboratories, and even NASA spend thousands to millions of dollars to create contamination free environments termed clean rooms that aid in eliminating nearly all foreign elements, infectious agents, heavy metal particles, and other undesirable impurities. For those reasons and more, HEPA filters are extensively used.

We at ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons regularly use air scrubbers that employ HEPA filters to aid in removing contaminants in the air of a structure. These powerful, high performance, heavy-duty units are completely safe air purifying devices. 

Several times each hour, an air scrubber sucks in contaminated and dusty air from a space, draws it through several filters, including a HEPA filter, and then pumps out fresh air that’s free of dust, chemicals and odors. The HEPA filter captures small particles such as mold, bacteria, asbestos, lead, dust, and many other floating contaminants. Air scrubbers continuously scour the air and provide a clean, healthy and productive environment. That’s why ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons utilizes them on jobs such as:

Don’t confuse heavy duty air scrubbers with simple air purifiers. Purifiers are intended to be used inside a home or business when it’s occupied. So, they’re engineered to run quietly and to fit in with their surroundings. Although some contain HEPA or other high efficiency filters, they are much weaker than air scrubbers and are only effective in small areas.

Having over 20 years of experience and the right equipment goes a long way towards getting a job completed quickly and thoroughly. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons prides itself on possessing both. If your Chicago area home or business suffers a disaster, our professional team of certified and experienced industry experts will diagnose your repair needs, explore your best options, and work with you to design the best possible solution to resolve your property recovery issues.

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

 

Should GREEN Cleaning Products be Used to Disinfect?

Natural and eco-friendly cleaners that don’t harm people, animals or the environment have become important focusses for consumers worldwide. Consequently, many people are now choosing cleaning products that are categorized as green, non-toxic, or natural. While most of these products are acceptable for everyday cleaning, you should be aware that nearly all do not have the required disinfection abilities to kill harmful viruses and diseases like COVID-19.

Cleaners and Disinfectants—What’s the Difference?

When your objective is to disinfect surfaces in your Chicagoland property against infectious diseases, the best way to discern which cleaners are also disinfectants is to verify the product has an EPA registration number on the label. If one does not exist, then it isn’t a tested and registered disinfectant. It’ll be safe to use the product to clean up dirt and grime, but it won’t disinfect against viruses and disease.

What Does the EPA Recommend?

The EPA’s task is to safeguard human and environmental health. Based in Washington, D.C., the EPA is responsible for establishing standards and laws that promote exactly that.

The EPA is focused on the elimination of contagious viruses and diseases and has developed a searchable database of disinfection products available to the public. These have been laboratory tested and are confirmed effective against the coronavirus and other infectious diseases. These disinfectants typically use harsh synthetic chemicals like quaternary ammonium to kill germs. Therefore, this list contains few green cleaners, with the exception of citric acid.

Some research has revealed that citric acid, an organic compound that occurs naturally in citrus fruits, has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties–enough to eliminate some types of bacteria, mold, and mildew. Nonetheless, it’s primarily considered a cleaning agent or microbial at best. When it comes to disinfecting (killing) harmful viruses, most natural or “green” ingredients, such as citric acid, are not as effective as their EPA-registered counterparts. All except one.

Benefect is a “green” plant-based botanical disinfectant product, is EPA tested and proven 99.9% effective in killing the coronavirus without any risk to animal and human health or the environment. It’s now an EPA List N registered disinfectant. The downsides are that it is very expensive and can be hard to get during the pandemic.

If Benefect is not available and you want to use a natural cleaner that has been tested by the EPA that may have a lower risk of causing asthma, irritation, hormonal disruption, or carcinogenic effects and pose the least threat among chemicals in their class, you can pick a product from the EPA’s Safer Choice List. This list should not be confused with the EPA’s List N of coronavirus-killing disinfectants. The Safer Choice is a list of products that are fine for routine cleaning but aren’t disinfectants for coronaviruses.

Use Professionals to Clean COVID-19

If you’re a home or business owner in the Chicagoland area and are interested in having your property cleaned and disinfected against COVID-19 or other contagious diseases, contact ServiceMaster By Simons Disinfection Services. We use only EPA List N registered NISUS DSV™ Disinfectant, Sanitizer, Virucide (10324-80-64405), an EPA hospital-grade disinfectant that fights 99.99% of bacteria, while also using cleanup protocols approved by the CDC. We’ll clean your home or business to minimize the threat and boost your peace of mind.

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

How Will The COVID-19 Delta Variant Affect My Business?

 

As the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to spread throughout communities in the United States and throughout the world at large, ServiceMaster Clean wants to continue to be your partner in keeping your business as healthy and safe as possible. While we may not know how or for how long the strain will impact the day-to-day of your business, we do know that there are ways to continue to protect yourself, your employees, and your customers.

By understanding the severity of the Delta variant and taking the proper precautions to avoid transmission, we can protect each other from continued spread and avoid further impacts to businesses.

Why Is The Delta Variant More Dangerous?

The COVID-19 Delta variant is currently the predominant strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant is significantly more infectious than previous strains of the coronavirus. It may cause more than two times as many infections as previous strains of COVID-19 as it is more easily transmitted from infected individuals to others.

Unfortunately, recent data suggests that this variant may even cause more serious side effects and illness than previous strains, specifically among unvaccinated individuals. Because there is still a large percentage of Americans who are unvaccinated, those individuals are left extremely vulnerable in contracting and fighting this particular strain of the virus. Thus far, virtually all hospitalizations and deaths have been among the unvaccinated.

While COVID-19 vaccinations are effective at protecting individuals from getting sick, the CDC still recommends vaccinated individuals wear a mask indoors in public—especially if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. Fully vaccinated people can still spread the virus to others, but seem to be infectious for a shorter period of time.

We will continue to monitor COVID-19 and the Delta variant of the virus as the CDC releases more information. Additionally, we will proactively monitor other possible variants that may be of concern to do everything possible to ensure that your business continues to operate in a healthy environment.

How To Protect Your Business From A COVID-19 Delta Outbreak

The best way you can protect your business from a COVID-19 Delta outbreak is to be as proactive as possible. Given what we know today about the Delta variant, there are a series of steps you can take to ensure that your business is prepared and doing everything possible to mitigate potential outbreaks. These include:

  • Asking customers and staff to wear a mask. The CDC recommends wearing masks indoors to help stop transmission. Where permitted, implementing and/or encouraging mask mandates in the workplace can provide greater protection for yourself, your employees, and customers.
  • Setting up a sanitation station when entering a business or workplace can be an effective way to encourage a clean environment. For example, providing face masks for those without, hand sanitizer to eliminate bacteria, and thermometers to ensure no one on-site is unknowingly running a fever.
  • Encouraging employees to get the vaccine. The Delta variant causes more severe side effects among the unvaccinated population. Encouraging individuals who are eligible to get the vaccine can help protect their health while also helping others who may be at risk or are unable to get the vaccine.
  • Encourage employees who feel sick to stay at home or work remotely. Unvaccinated people who have been exposed or come in close contact to someone infected with COVID-19 are encouraged to quarantine for 14 days. Fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are to be tested 3-5 days after exposure in addition to wearing a face mask indoors for 2 weeks until they receive a negative test result.
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces will help reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading throughout your facility. These surfaces will vary from facility to facility, but usually include:
    • Light switches
    • Doorknobs
    • Faucet handles
    • Refrigerator door handles
    • Handrails
    • Tables
    • Counters
    • Shared computer keyboards or touch screens
    • Work tools that may get shared from person to person
    • Surfaces that come into contact with customers, such as gym equipment, or furniture in a dining or waiting room
  • Hire commercial cleaning experts. In addition to mask use and vaccinations, you can also schedule regular commercial cleaning services specific to COVID-19 prevention. These cleaning and disinfection services will help you better maintain a clean and healthy environment no matter if you work in healthcareeducationoffices, or industrial environments.

By establishing and keeping open communications and policies, you will be able to better empower your employees to make smart decisions that positively impact those they work with and serve.

ServiceMaster By Simons Is Here To Help! We care about your business and the people within it. While you can continue to operate in the rapidly changing COVID-19 environment, ServiceMaster Clean can help your business stay clean and operate in a healthy environment by providing commercial cleaning services for your business. Our nationwide network of cleaning experts has been staying up to date on the guidelines from regulators including the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By following the latest guidance from public health agencies, we train our team on infection control best practices to provide effective cleaning and disinfection services against COVID-19.

Give us a call at (773) 376-1110 to speak to a customer representative or email us at info@servicemaster-rbs.com

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

Bird and Bat Droppings – Destructive and Hazardous to Your Health

There are many cleaning tasks in your Chicagoland home or business that you or your employees can easily manage. After all, the majority of cleaning projects just require a little elbow grease and willpower which most can easily handle. But there are times when it’s necessary to call in a professional cleaning company.

When checking out areas such as attics, cupolas, ledges, barns or comparable spaces, you might have observed that they had become home to birds or bats. And where such animals live, their droppings often accumulate so considerably that it can become many inches thick. Cleaning these messes is more than just a nuisance. If not dispensed with immediately, the weight of their feces can cause lasting damage to the structure of your home or business, including balconies, roofs, fences, machinery, ventilation systems and more. It’s also toxic.

Why Bird and Bat Droppings are Lethal

Serious health risks are connected to disease organisms that can breed in the nutrient-rich buildups of bird droppings, feathers and their remains. Not only are bird and bat droppings a foul mess that are difficult to remove and can cause slip-and-fall accidents, but they’re also a haven for numerous human pathogens. This is hazardous waste!

Bird and bat droppings can contain a disease-causing fungus called histoplasmosis. Symptoms of this infection vary, but the disease mainly affects the lungs. If someone has a suppressed immune system brought on by disease or are taking an immunosuppressive medication, they are especially at risk.

For instance, one woman contracted histoplasmosis due to a rheumatoid arthritis drug she was on. She had to undergo a year’s worth of a very foul tasting drug to kill this thing (plus another medication so that she could keep it down). She developed the disease through normal outside activities (like planting flowers) as histoplasma fungus grows as a mold in the soil and infection can arise from breathing in their airborne particles. Those without autoimmune diseases aren’t generally impacted by those small amounts, but in heavily concentrated areas as those mentioned at the beginning of this article, anyone could be at risk.

The most dangerous variety of histoplasmosis occurs principally in infants and in people with compromised immune systems. Called disseminated histoplasmosis, it can affect most parts of your body, including your mouth, liver, central nervous system, skin and adrenal glands. If left untreated, disseminated histoplasmosis is usually fatal.

These are examples of other communicable bird diseases associated with pigeons, geese, starlings, bats and house sparrows:

  • Candidiasis is a yeast or fungus infection that affects the skin, mouth, respiratory system, intestines and the urogenital tract.
  • Cryptococcosis is triggered by yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and starlings. The illness often begins as a lung disease and could later affect the central nervous system.
  • Louis Encephalitis, an inflammation of the nervous system, typically causes drowsiness, headaches and fever. It may even result in paralysis, coma or death.
  • Salmonellosis often occurs as food poisoning. The disease’s bacteria are found in bird droppings; dust from droppings can be sucked through ventilation shafts and air conditioners, contaminating food and cooking surfaces in your home
  • Coli infection: It is one of the common infections caused by guano. Symptoms range from stomach pains, cramps, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite or nausea, and vomiting.

How the Pros Handle It

Whether you’re a Chicago area homeowner, commercial property owner or manager, these are the reasons why a professional hazmat cleanup crew should be called in to handle these situations. The process of cleaning up these droppings is similar to coronavirus cleaning and disinfecting.

At ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons we have highly trained technicians who use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including respirators and professional cleaning machines and supplies. They will remove all bird and bat droppings quickly and efficiently and repair any damage it might have done. Once it’s eradicated, we then clean, disinfect and deodorize the affected areas to protect your health. All droppings are sanitarily removed from your property and disposed of with care.

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

 

 

Lingering Tobacco Odors are Still a Health Hazard

 

Have you ever rented or bought a Chicagoland home that had been totally renovated yet you could still occasionally smell cigarette smoke?  That’s because after years of being subjected to smoking, even the structural elements of a building can be saturated with tobacco odor leaving nasty smells in all rooms, not just the one where someone smoked the most.

What tobacco smoke leaves behind

Cigarette smoke deposits are yellowish-brown, gluey substances that stick to all surfaces in a home, making it hard and time-consuming to remove. If you’ve ever cleaned windows or walls that have sustained large amounts of cigarette smoke, you’ve easily seen this residue.

As stated by the American Lung Association, cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals (40 of which are linked with cancer) that not even the stoutest air purifiers can eliminate from your home. But it’s not just an odor dilemma.

How does tobacco smoke affect your home?

Studies conducted by the San Diego State University show that third-hand smoke that emits from walls, carpets and curtains can have a substantial impact on our health. Deadly and volatile composites from tobacco smoke build up in drywall and in soft furnishings. Children are particularly at risk of diseases triggered by exposure to the toxins from third-hand smoke.

“There’s a big illusion that when tobacco smoke disappears, we’re safe,” said SDSU psychology professor Georg Matt, director of the resource center. “Unfortunately, some of the most toxic compounds clinch to surfaces. They get embedded in carpets, they coat walls, they penetrate into walls. They become part of the indoor environment.”

Smoking not only adversely affects those exposed to smoke, but it also produces malodourous elements that stick to all surfaces of the area where smoking has occurred. The yellowish-brown gunk produced by smoking bonds to walls, furniture, and plastics, and may forever change their appearance. Cigarette smoke also infiltrates odor-absorbing objects, such as insulation, carpets, upholstery, bedding, clothes, and more.

Additionally, a buildings HVAC system transports smoke odor and chemicals all over the structure. That means that over time, the buildup of dust and debris inside HVAC ducting absorbed those odors and so will need to be cleaned out. Additionally, the entire ducting system will need to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

How professionals remove tobacco smoke odor

There’s no magic formula that will eradicate these residues and smells.

Covering up odors with air fresheners only works briefly and might pose health risks. Furthermore, trying to conceal tobacco smells with a fresh coat of paint without first eliminating the source won’t successfully eliminate the odor. Within a short time, smoke residue will begin seeping through the paint and will once again spread offensive odors throughout the room.

The only successful way to eliminate tobacco residue and odor is by the very thorough cleaning and then sealing of all structural surfaces. ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons, your Chicagoland restoration specialists, start tobacco smoke removal by cleaning all surfaces, using deodorizing agents to eliminate the very minute particles of tobacco smoke. Once we’ve finished cleaning all visible surfaces, we use specialized equipment, such as hydroxyl generators and/or ozone generators, that destroy the odor molecules that are unreachable (such as inside walls or joints).

The next step consists of using a sealant to lock in the very last stains and odors. After that, surfaces will be prepared to paint, refinish or apply new coverings. Lastly, our team works to confirm that all surfaces are sanitized and treated to make sure odors stay away from you and your possessions.

ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons in Chicago are professionals at removing all smoke residue and odors, no matter their source. So don’t continue to suffer from unwanted smells and stains. Let us give your home a breath of fresh air!

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

A Spring Cleaning Checklist For Property Managers

Winter will (hopefully) soon be over in the Chicagoland area. But with warmer weather comes a whole new set of concerns and projects for property managers. It’s spring cleaning time! Since there’s so much to do, this time of year can feel daunting. But by creating a checklist, you’ll have a better handle on what needs to be done.

The following tips will help you plan what needs to be taken care of in, on, and around your properties each spring. While some of these tips are not strictly seasonal, they are good reminders of the maintenance you should be doing on a regular schedule.

Reconnect with Your Tenants

If you don’t already publish one, now is a great time to start an email newsletter for your tenants that describes all of the things you’ll be doing for them as well as the actions they can take to make their spring and summer as cool and uneventful as possible.

When giving your tenants maintenance tips, do so in a helpful and considerate way. Don’t tell what to do. Rather, offer helpful spring cleaning tips, such as cleaning their windows and doors to remove soil buildup from over the winter.

A newsletter is also a great way to remind tenants about the things they’re responsible for maintaining. For instance, if you’re renting out a house and the tenant is responsible for cutting the grass, a gentle reminder can be included. It’s also a great place to remind your tenants that they can, and should, let you know about any issues that need to be taken care of.

General Maintenance – Outside

For properties where you’re responsible for maintaining the common areas, be sure to keep up with general maintenance tasks, such as cleaning up the landscaping as the effects of winter melt away. Those things should be done as quickly as possible. General maintenance jobs such as the following are especially important in springtime:

  • Maintaining landscaping
  • Cleaning and repairing drainage systems
  • Checking the roof for leaks or problems
  • Ensuring all doors lock properly
  • Checking for cracks in the caulk
  • Checking the fire system

These things should be done throughout the year, but it’s helpful to add them to your spring checklist.

General Maintenance – Inside

Now’s a good time to replace the batteries in smoke detectors as well as carbon monoxide sensors (if needed). These tasks should be done twice a year, so schedule them for the first day of spring and the first day of fall. You can also add to your list a reminder to change HVAC filters in your property HVAC systems. By doing so now you can verify that the air conditioning is working in every one of your rental units. But as a general rule, you’ll want to replace pleated air filters every 90 days. The longer the filter is in place, the more dirt, dust and allergens are trapped, clogging the filter and decreasing their efficiency and the life of the unit.

While doing those things, why not check that all included appliances at the property are being properly maintained and in working order. They need regular maintenance and cleaning to last as long as possible. Be sure you arrange all maintenance work according to what’s outlined in your lease agreement to prevent any problems or miscommunications.

Stock Up on Supplies

Many items turn up missing or damaged when you turn over a property. Others are often requested by tenants. So, stock up on critical supplies such as A/C filters, light bulbs of several wattages, various screws and fasteners, faucet aerators, water filters, shower heads, and water heater heating elements.

This is a great time of year to stockpile these as there are often sales on home improvement items during spring months when so many are concentrating on spring cleaning.

Revise Your Budget

People move most frequently during spring and early summer months, so set your budget and calendar for additional carpet cleaning appointments, painters, paint and supplies, as well as general maintenance on move-outs. Cleaning or replacing everything that needs to be turned over in your Chicagoland property can add up. Furthermore, the costs of supplies and services change each year. So, update your budget and operating costs appropriately. This should be done every year, so why not now?

Plan for the Future

You always want to provide for your tenants the safest possible environment. Part of ensuring their security is having a solid disaster preparedness plan in place. As a property owner or manager, it’s one of your biggest responsibilities.

Now is the time to contact ServiceMaster By Simons who will help you set one in place. They are your Chicago area go-to contact whether your property suffers water or fire damage, storm damage, sewage backup, mold infestation and more. Additionally, they have the tools and experience to clean and sanitize any property that needs disinfection due to COVID-19.

While the above list covers many aspects of your job, it’s important to personalize the checklists you use. Only you know exactly how your business works and what needs to be dealt with at any particular time. Make sure you adjust this checklist to include anything that’s unique or required for your properties.

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-376-1110 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com