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

 

How Environmental Hygienists Find Mold You Can’t See

Once upon a time if you couldn’t see something you generally weren’t worried about it. Today, with the advances in science and technology, we now understand that gases and micro-pollutants in the air – even those that can’t be seen or smelled – can affect our health and well-being. So, air quality can no longer be judged by our senses alone, especially indoors. And one of those invisible micro-pollutants that can affect the quality of inside air is mold.

 

How Mold Enters the Airstream

Molds are fungi often hidden away in warm, humid corners of your Chicagoland home. Although they look stationary, molds have ways of getting into the air and thus into your lungs. To reproduce, they release spores into the air. And if the mold dries out, fragments will break off and attach to existing dust in your air where they can harm both the air quality and your health. Molds can stimulate allergic reactions, and some toxic molds might even weaken your immune system.

 

How Technology Helps Find Mold

During mold remediation, environmental hygienists test the air during and after mold cleanup to determine how effectively the contaminants are being removed or contained. This is done by using a laser particle counter to determine the number of airborne particles. This device draws in a sample of air, shines a laser light across the air stream inside of it and electronically counts the particles that cross the path of the beam. In contaminated environments, the amount of particles will be very high, but after a thorough cleaning, they’ll be significantly lower.

Laser particle counter measurements show over 99% of the particles floating in indoor air that are one micron (1/1,000,000 of a meter) or smaller. The EPA calls these lung-damaging particles because they can lodge deep in the lungs when inhaled. Although a particle counter can’t differentiate between spores, skin fragments or cotton fibers, using one can help determine if the property is experiencing a mold problem and can be used for additional quality-control and post-remediation checking. 

Certain websites allow mold testing companies to enter data from a particle counter and get prompt online results so that you’ll have an answer quickly, instead of having to wait days or weeks for results.

 

ServiceMaster By Simons Works With Environmental Hygienists

Many of our customers who research mold cleanup, mold removal, or mold remediation services may be surprised to discover ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides professional mold remediation, cleanup and removal in Chicago and its suburbs. After an independent environmental hygienist has tested and observed the air in your home or business and a positive report is received, our licensed technicians identify the problem and possible causes, such as water leaks or moisture issues. 

Our IICRC Certified technicians follow a systematic and well-planned mold abatement and remediation process to clean up mold and repair your property to your satisfaction. Contact ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons today for free on-site estimates for mold removal and remediation in the Chicagoland area.

 

 

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

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

Why Only Professionals Should Tackle Raw Sewage Cleanup

Whether you’ve smelled it as you’ve drove by a spill or you’ve had it backed up in your Chicagoland home or business, the nauseating odor of raw sewage is difficult to forget. Sadly, the terrible odor isn’t the worst of it.

What is raw sewage?

Raw sewage is waste that has not been cleaned and treated and originates from residential, institutional, or business buildings. It isn’t simply liquid; it may also contain toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and additional human wastes. It’s also called black water, which is swarming with deadly bacteria and viruses that can turn previously clean and safe indoor living areas into contaminated danger zones.

What are the health risks?

Raw sewage is a mixture of foul material. It’s the perfect breeding ground for nearly all kinds of bacteria, viruses and microorganisms. Raw sewage consists of an almost endless list of toxic pathogens and contact with them can cause you to be violently ill or perhaps kill you.

How do professionals protect themselves?

It’s vital that raw sewage is kept from touching your skin, especially where there are cuts, sores and any mucus membrane related to the eyes, ears and nose. That’s why disaster restoration professionals like ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons cover up entirely in PPE (personal protective equipment) which comprises of full body suits, full face respirators, gloves, rubber boots, etc. They additionally keep a complete stock of respirator and sanitizer wipes, as well as access to an eye wash station and a change of clothes.

What can I do to protect my family?

Keep animals, kids, and the elderly away from the area that’s been contaminated as they’re typically more vulnerable to germs and bacteria. Carefully wash all items touched by sewage immediately. Though it’s not always possible to avoid raw sewage backups, you can decrease the odds of one happening by having your drain lines examined at least twice annually. Also, make sure you repair slow drains immediately, don’t pour grease down drains and have your pipes flushed frequently.

Can sewage damaged contents be saved?

If some contents of your Chicagoland home or business were soiled by sewage, your first thought might be to quickly dispose of them. But though they may have been saturated in the worst sludge imaginable, many can be meticulously cleaned and sanitized so that you can securely use them again. But there are exceptions:

  • Absorbent materials or items that soaked up any sewage water are non-salvageable and must be discarded. These include carpeting and padding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, curtains, books, etc. Clothes, towels, and linens can generally be safely laundered and disinfected.
  • Porous structural objects such as saturated drywall, baseboard trim, paneling, insulation, and comparable materials that have absorbed wastewater cannot be disinfected and also have to be removed. If black water has seeped below the flooring, the flooring material might also need removal.

If you have questions about whether some of the contents in your home or business are salvageable or not, contact ServiceMaster By Simons immediately for your health and peace of mind.

As dangerous as they are, it’s important that you not attempt to clean up sewage spills yourself. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons has the experience, equipment and disinfectants needed to safely clean them up, protecting you, your family or your employees from becoming deathly ill.

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

5 “Facts” About Mold and Their Reality

mold remediation Chicago - mold removal - mold cleanup - ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons

Much has been said on the subject of mold. But there’s a lot of misinformation about mold out there and sometimes it’s overdramatized. Mention the word “mold” and some people will flee in panic. In reality, mold in a Chicagoland home or business can be a serious problem, but with a little common sense and the right information, you can learn to discern myth from fact and make wise decisions in your dealings with mold. Here are five “facts” that aren’t exactly true:

“Fact” 1: All Mold is Bad

Not true! Products such as blue cheese (Yum!) and penicillin contain mold. If you have a garden, the presence of mold will help it grow by speeding up the decomposition of organic materials like leaves and branches to help keep the soil healthy and full of beneficial nutrients.

“Fact” 2: All Mold is Unhealthy

As seen in “Fact” 1, that’s incorrect. But even among questionable molds, their effect on people varies greatly. Molds produce allergens, and while some people will be allergic to those allergens, not everyone will have a reaction.

According to the CDC, if someone is highly sensitive to mold they may show symptoms such as difficulty breathing, a bloody nose, and itchy, watery eyes. Those with compromised immune symptoms are also at risk, and some studies suggest serious health effects can crop up from repeated exposure to mold.

“Fact” 3: There Shouldn’t Be Mold in Your Home

This would be nearly impossible. Mold is all around us and is natural. There are mold spores in the air you’re breathing right now and there’s really no way around it unless you decide to live in a bubble. Problems only arise when there’s a high concentration of mold indoors, which is usually caused by too much moisture or water damage in your home. It shouldn’t be visibly growing inside your home!

“Fact” 4: Bleach Kills Mold

Bleach can kill mold, BUT it depends on the surface the mold is on. Mold grows on both porous and non-porous materials. When dealing with mold on non-porous materials such as shower tiles, tubs, vinyl window trims, counter tops, etc. you can use bleach to kill the mold and disinfect. But using bleach to remove mold from porous materials like drywall and wood can actually accelerate mold growth rather than killing it!

When bleach is used on porous materials, the chlorine is left on the surface and only the water component of the bleach is absorbed into the material, aggravating the situation as this provides more moisture for the mold to feed on, where it may then produce allergens and irritants.

“Fact” 5: Anyone Can Clean Up Mold

While you may be able to clean up certain kinds of mold in small quantities, most people in the Chicagoland area aren’t equipped to do mold remediation. To properly “cleanup” a mold problem you must identify the cause, isolate the area to keep the mold from spreading, and clean and or remove the affected surfaces. Unless you’re trained, know how to setup a containment unit, own commercial sized HEPA air filtration units, protective gear, HEPA vacuums, and specialized cleaning agents, you should call the professionals at ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons.

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

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

Cleaning Chemicals and Extreme Temperatures Don’t Mix

The recent cold and snow that permeated the Chicagoland area certainly has made winter feel longer. Some like it, while others agree with comedian Carl Reiner who once stated, “A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”

Some inanimate items that don’t do well in freezing weather are many of the cleaning chemicals you use. Check the labels for any freeze warnings that they may post. When some non-aerosol products freeze, the solids within the solution will fall out and can’t be blended back into the mixture. When this happens, the product is basically useless and will need to be thrown out. But if water-based products freeze, you can thaw ’em and shake ’em and they should be good to go.

Aerosol Products

There are also aerosol products. These work best at room temperature or warmer. Many aerosols consist of a water-based product and a solvent-based propellant. When an aerosol can is very cold, it won’t dispense properly. Instead of a nice even spray, either nothing will come out (even though there’s still plenty of product inside) or it’ll just spit at you like an angry camel.

The reason for this is that when a water-based product gets cold, it gets thick and sluggish. So, when the nozzle is depressed, what dispenses is mostly the solvent-based propellant instead of product and you end up with a can full of a cleaning product that you’ll never be able to use. And there goes money in the trash. This problem is easily alleviated by running a cold can under hot water for about a minute or so before using. Your best bet is to store them inside a heated building and not somewhere like an unheated garage.

Problems with aerosols also exist on the other end of the temperature spectrum. Spray cans of cleaners, deodorant, hairspray, spray paint, etc., can explode at 120 degrees. It can get that hot inside an enclosed, uncooled building on a scorching day, even in Chicago. And the temperature inside a parked car can get up to 140 degrees on an extremely hot day, and that’s past what it takes for aerosol cans to explode. So, never store aerosols in any place that gets hot, such as on top of a radiator, a fireplace mantle, a water heater or near furnaces, wood stoves or space heaters.

Hand Sanitizers

Many carry and store hand sanitizers in their vehicles these days. Although they’re unlikely to explode in high heat due to the fact that they’re usually hand pumped and not used in aerosol cans, they can lose their effectiveness if they sit in a hot car. Those products contain alcohol, which once hot, evaporates much more quickly than water. Once this happens, they lose their sanitizing properties.

Interestingly, most products sold in aerosol cans are more expensive by weight or volume than their non-aerosol counterparts. The propellant in an aerosol can may account for as much as 15 percent of the weight. Economically,  non-aerosol products are more cost-effective. And if you really want to save some cash, buy concentrated cleaning chemicals where you mix them yourself. By doing so, you can realize a savings from dollars per gallon to cents per gallon.

The welfare of your cleaning chemicals may not be the very first thing on your mind, but considering how much money you spend on them, they’re worth a little consideration on your part.

If your Chicagoland home or business is in need of deep cleaning due to Covid-19 or any other reason, contact ServiceMaster By Simons. We closely follow the guidelines of The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification to ensure each job is done correctly.

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