The 4 Elements of Fire and Ways to Snuff it Out

When you see a fire raging, it seems like it’s an almost uncontrollable force, consuming all that gets in its way and inflicting fire damage on every item it touches. And the bigger it gets, the more difficult it is to manage. But every fire does have its Achilles’ heel.

Enter the fire tetrahedron. This triangular pyramid represents the four equal components that every fire must include. Without just one, a fire falls apart. Knowing this can help you kill a fire before it gets out of control and causes fire damage to your Chicago area property, necessitating a call to ServiceMaster By Simons for assistance.

 

The 4 Things Fire Needs to Exist

  1. Fuel.  A fire must have something to feed on, to consume. Just like living things, it has to have something to eat to survive. The fuel can be anything flammable such as paper, wood, fabric, chemicals, or combustible materials.

 

  1. Heat. A heat source is needed for the initial ignition of fire and to maintain a fire and enable it to spread. Heat allows a fire to spread by drying out and preheating nearby fuel and warming the surrounding air. Some objects’ flashpoints are lower than others, so they combust more easily, resulting in massive fire damage.

 

  1. Oxygen. Air contains about 21 percent oxygen, and most fires require at least 16 percent oxygen content to burn. Oxygen supports the chemical processes that occur during a fire. When fuel burns, it reacts with oxygen from the surrounding air, releasing heat and generating combustion products (gases, smoke, embers, etc.). This process is known as oxidation.

 

  1. Chemical Chain Reaction. While the three components above are still needed, an actual chemical reaction must take place for a fire to ignite. Once a fire has started, the resulting exothermic chain reaction sustains the fire and allows it to continue until at least one of the elements of the fire is blocked

 

The 4 Ways to Stop a Fire

  1. Cool it. If a fuel source can be cooled by, say, pouring water on it, a fire can’t continue because you’ve removed some of the heat energy. Water simultaneously cools and suffocates the fire. It cools it so much that it can’t burn anymore, and it smothers it so that it can’t burn any more of the oxygen in the air. But never use water on grease or electrical fires! Those need the correct fire extinguisher.

 

  1. Smother it. If the oxygen supply to a fire can be sufficiently decreased, burning will cease. By preventing fresh air from reaching a fire, you reduce the oxygen content in a confined atmosphere until it extinguishes itself. Some examples of this are:

 

  • smothering a pan fire with a lid
  • wrapping a person in a fire blanket
  • applying a blanket of foam over a burning surface, thus separating the fuel from the air

 

  1. Starve it. Sometimes, a fire can be extinguished simply by removing the fuel source. Ways this may be achieved are by:

 

  • stopping the flow of liquid or gaseous fuel
  • removing solid fuel from the path of a fire
  • allowing a fire to burn until all fuel is consumed

 

  1. Interrupt the chain reaction. There are certain compounds that, when introduced into a fire’s atmosphere, disturb the chemical chain reaction, causing a fire to delay and ultimately stop. Dry powder, Bromochlorodifluoromethane (BCF), and other halon extinguishers do the trick.

 

If the fire tetrahedron ends up being the cause of fire damage to your Chicago area home or business, we’re ready 24/7 to help you recover. Contact ServiceMaster By Simons anytime for fast, thorough cleanup and recovery of any fire damage.

 

 

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a SB100 Best of Small Business Award Winner 2021, 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

 

Preventing Serious Illnesses After a Chicagoland Disaster

When it comes to disasters, many articles advise you on how to take preventative safety steps to either avoid them or ways to deal with them. But once a disaster is ended, some dangers still exist. They include numerous ways you could become ill due to the aftereffects of a catastrophe to your Chicagoland home and/or neighborhood.

The following are some disaster-related factors you need to know about to keep yourself safe from illness:

 

Animal and Insect-Related Threats

Stray animals and insects often seek shelter in places they normally don’t during natural disasters, especially after a flooding event. This can bring wildlife and people closer together and increase the risk of animals spreading diseases like leptospirosis and rabies. Never interact with stray or wild animals to avoid catching their illnesses and getting bitten.

If you come across a dead or sick stray animal, don’t try to capture or care for it on your own. Call the local authorities to handle the situation.

 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a dangerous gas that may cause serious illness and even death if breathed in. CO is impossible to detect without proper equipment as it’s colorless and odorless. So be sure you install a CO detector because natural disasters sometimes rupture gas lines on your property, releasing carbon monoxide.

If you even suspect your gas lines have been disrupted, don’t use a gas oven or furnace because they could add more carbon dioxide to the air. Don’t use generators, grills, propane, gasoline, or gas-burning devices inside or near your home. If you want to cook food or adjust the thermostat, don’t risk it. Instead, evacuate your home and look to family, friends, or a community shelter for help.

 

Flood Borne Diseases

Floodwaters carry with them a host of dangers. One of them is bacterial contamination. Many floods cause sewer overflows, releasing dangerous chemical waste and harmful microbes. These can make you very ill, especially if you swallow any of it, or if it comes in contact with your eyes, nose, or open sores.

Leave flood damage cleanup to the professionals. If you’re forced to have physical contact with floodwaters, wear protective clothing, and where your skin or clothing touches the water, wash as soon as possible.

 

Food and Drinking Water Dangers

During a disaster, electricity and water lines may be disrupted and tap water can become tainted. Be wary of food and water after a fire or flood because some of it might no longer be safe for consumption. Lack of electricity can spoil food and water can be contaminated with microorganisms, chemicals, and sewage waste, which makes it unsafe for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Once a disaster passes, only consume food and water from a trusted source. Listen for public announcements to find out when it’s safe to use the local water supply. Meanwhile, use bottled water or boil water to disinfect it. Follow the link below to see directions and exceptions to disinfecting your water.

 

Take Extra Precautions to Keep Yourself Healthy

Illnesses and diseases can quickly spread after a disaster. Be sure to wash your hands often. Use disinfectant wipes or soap and warm, clean water to eliminate the germs off your hands. Disinfect your water source by boiling it or mixing in bleach and allowing it to sit for half an hour. If you don’t have access to clean water so you can wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer if available.

 

Contact Us and Worry Less

A disaster is already difficult to deal with without also worrying about the aftermath and its effects. Call ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons to properly clean and restore your Chicago area property so you can concentrate on the health and safety of you and your family. We’ll work conscientiously to return your property to its original condition as soon as possible.

 

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a SB100 Best of Small Business Award Winner 2021, 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

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

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

 

 

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

Why Hoarding Cleanup Should Only be Done by Professionals

With the popularity of reality TV shows in recent years like Hoarders and American Pickers, it’s easy to see that hoarding is a bigger problem than most of us ever thought about. When this is an issue with family or friends, we may feel the need to help them. But when cleaning up these homes, more is involved than just taking out the trash.

Most people who hoard on an extreme level have emotional and mental health problems. They are fiercely attached to their collections and may compromise their own safety and their relationships with others just to hold on to those items. But when the well-being of the home’s occupants is in danger, cleaning up a hoarded home is necessary. And when you do, it’s best to call in Chicagoland area professionals who handle such cases regularly.

Hoarding Dangers

Here’s a list of hazards that come with cleaning up a hoarder’s home and why you shouldn’t try to handle it yourself:

  • Fire – This is the main danger in a hoarded home because much of the clutter consists of flammable materials, such as boxes, magazines, old mail and paper trash. Fires may occur when these types of objects cover a heat vent or damaged wires. Moreover, clutter blocks residents from escaping from a fire and first responders may not be able to navigate a hoarded home to rescue the residents.
  • Injuries – These can occur due to falls or trips as there’s very little room to walk. Piles in a hoarded home can reach as high as ceilings and so can collapse and cause injury. Someone may even get trapped under falling debris and contents.
  • Diseases – Pests like rats and cockroaches can infest a hoarded home, increasing the chance of infecting people with diseases from their droppings or bites. With animal hoarders, the prospect of disease gets even worse as owners fail to pick up after their pets. Sometimes those animals die but their bodies are never removed, which intensifies the sanitation problem.
  • Mold – Due to  the lack of proper airflow in a home because of stacks of trash, mold may develop. Additionally, water damage from a clog or water leak – even a small one – mixed with organic material is the perfect recipe for mold growth. Hoarders also have difficulty throwing away food and plates of half-eaten food may sit out for days, weeks, or even months, resulting in more mold infestation. Mold can cause respiratory and other health problems, especially for those with allergies.
  • Air quality – All that clutter results in tons of dust, odors, and ammonia from decaying waste products. These can cause serious air quality issues in the hoarder’s home, producing respiratory problems in both people and pets.
  • Structural integrity – Over time, hoarding can cause structural damage to the building itself due to the great weight and uneven distribution of too much stuff. Floors and load-bearing parts of a house, meant to support only a certain amount of weight, may buckle or even collapse under the strain.

Hoarding Clean-up Procedures

Another reason for not trying to clean up after a hoarder is that you likely lack the experience, expertise and resources of a professional cleaning company that can perform the job efficiently and safely.  Here’s how ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons tackles this difficult task:

  • We ensure safety – Our workers must wear protective suits (PPE), which include disposable gloves and face masks, to protect themselves against bacteria and diseases. We also keep a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit on hand.
  • We stock all needed cleaning supplies – Everything from heavy duty tools, trash bags, boxes, buckets, universal cleaning agents, heavy duty disinfectants, etc.
  • We set up a staging area and dumpster –An open space, such as a yard, is used to temporarily place contents pulled from the home. A large dumpster is brought in to dispose of the debris.
  • We strategically declutter the home – When the staging area is ready, we begin in the room nearest the closest exit to be able to escape quickly in case of emergency. The trash and clutter from each room is removed from top to bottom.
  • We sort the contents – Local Chicagoland regulations are followed when handling items that can’t go directly into the garbage (like paints or explosives). Then, trash and debris is bagged and placed in the dumpster. Salvageable items are sorted into items to keep and to donate.
  • We filter the air – Air filtration fans are set up through the job site to clean the air and reduce the amount of dust/allergens while the technicians are working.
  • We repair and clean the home – Once the entire structure is free of clutter, we assist with any needed repairs,  including water, fire and mold damage. Meanwhile, all salvageable contents are cleaned and disinfected.

Contact ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons immediately at 773-389-1805 if you or a loved one suffers from hoarding and/or you need assistance cleaning out a hoarder’s house. Using the latest cleaning and restoration tools and techniques, we’re standing by 24/7 to return any property to a safe, clean, and orderly condition.

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

Don’t Be a Victim of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

servicemasterrestorationbysimonscarbonmonoxidepoisoning

Not very long ago, a couple made love in their car that was parked in their garage. Meanwhile, they not only left the vehicle running but were also operating a kerosene heater due to the extreme cold. Needless to say, they died due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Although that sounds like a sad and silly way to go, every year at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning and approximately 50,000 others are forced to visit the emergency room because of it. CO deaths regularly occur in Chicago and the stories are heartbreaking.

Why CO Is Dangerous

The reason why CO is dangerous is because it interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. Being colorless, odorless and tasteless, people can be overcome without any warning. So, symptoms caused by exposure to CO include low energy, headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, visual impairment, and (obviously) death.

CO is found in fumes produced by furnaces, kerosene heaters, vehicles “warmed up” in garages, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, portable generators, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, poisoning people and animals.

When a storm knocks out power, many rely on portable generators to keep the lights on until electricity is restored. Fred Henretig, a senior toxicologist at the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says he and his colleagues have been attempting to raise awareness about proper portable generator use for years, but carbon monoxide poisoning cases unfailingly surge after each big storm.

“So what people tend to do — not always but it’s not unheard of — is just set it up like right next to the open garage door and they think, ‘OK, that’s going to work fine, it will blow out,’ ” Henretig explained. “The exhaust will blow out, but the trouble is, you can’t always account for different drafts and how things get vented around.”

Check The Facts

Research suggests that in natural disasters, carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators has the potential to take more lives than the disasters themselves. A study tracking confirmed deaths related to Hurricane Irma in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina in 2017 attributed 16 fatalities to carbon monoxide poisoning and 11 to the storm itself.

Here are ways you can you protect yourself from CO poisoning, whether a disaster has occurred or not:

  • Purchase and install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, including the basement.
  • Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months.
  • Have gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris so as not to block ventilation lines.
  • Never leave a vehicle’s motor running while parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run any gasoline-powered engine within 20 feet of an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can seep into an enclosed area, or inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.

If your CO detector goes off during or right after a disaster, leave your residence immediately and call 911. If you feel light-headed, dizzy, or nauseated and suspect you may have CO poisoning, seek immediate medical attention.

If you live in the Chicagoland area and have recently experienced water damage, fire damage, smoke damage, or storm damage, necessitating the use of a generator, call ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons immediately! The sooner we can restore your home or business to pre-loss condition, the safer you’ll be.

About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons:

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, the 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, is MBE/WBE certified, and family-operated.  We are an IICRC Certified and OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides 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.