Recent Cleaning Posts

Hoarding Cleanup-Are you prepared to do it?

4/24/2018 (Permalink)

Studies estimate nearly 5 percent of people in the U.S. are hoarders of some kind. Most of us know of at least one: an elderly aunt or uncle or even a neighbor whose strange collection of grocery bags, bottles, old copies of the local paper and magazines pile up. Recovery is possible, but treatment for the behavior is just one part of the process. Restoring the home to a livable condition is also a major concern. An incomplete cleanup can cause further damage to the property, as well as health risks to current or future tenants in the form of illness-causing bacteria left behind in the environment.

Here at SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island, our job is not to judge; our job is to clean and sanitize in the most efficient and effective way possible. Understanding the client as well as the unique qualities and conditions present in hoarded homes can help restoration services avoid costly service issues and decide for themselves whether hoarding cleanup is something they are able to offer, or if it is better contracted out to a specialty service company.

What Dangers Are Associated with Hoarding?

Not only is hoarding a nuisance to neighbors; it is also dangerous to the hoarder themselves, and to others who live in or even visit the home. Depending on the level of neglect, a hoarded home can swiftly become unsafe and unlivable.

First responders require additional time and equipment to reach a victim in a cluttered home. As a precaution, many fire departments immediately call a second alarm once they realize the condition of the residence. Some firefighters are trained to recognize signs of hoarding from outside so they know to approach a scene with extra caution. Exits and entrances may be blocked or impassable, and falling debris and other items can lead to serious injuries or even death.

Bacteria and viruses are also matters of concern. Not all biological hazards are visible to the naked eye, and while a family may rid the house of the visible signs of dirt, without proper tools and training, disease causing microorganisms may remain behind which can lead to serious medical complications, including chronic skin conditions and respiratory ailments. Left unchecked for longer periods, hoarding conditions attract vermin and insects that bring disease, or produce mold and other toxic elements.

Who Are the Clients?

Unlike other forms of remediation, hoarding is unique in that first contact with a restoration company is often initiated by someone other than the victim themselves. The hoarder’s child or another relative (living in the home or elsewhere), or an outside care provider or social services representative, may be the first to seek out services. Local law enforcement and housing authorities are sometimes involved. Other cases, depend on property management to make the call.

Hoarding is a complicated situation not limited by economic factors; it can affect an expensive home, a respectable condo, or a basic rental apartment. Recognized as a mental illness related to OCD, psychologists believe that hoarding begins as a way to cope with other aspects of life which the person feels they are unable to control. Though only one person might have the illness, entire families can be affected and living in the hoarded home, including small children and otherwise healthy adults. Often it takes one of these relatives, or a social or case worker, to convince the hoarder to seek treatment. Sometimes the threat of legal intervention is what prompts a hoarder to seek cleanup services.

Age and gender are not believed to be factors in hoarding, though single hoarders living alone are often elderly. In those cases, belongings accumulate over long periods of time, and adult children are rarely present in the home to monitor the situation. Sometimes physical impairment or illness prevent the person from maintaining a healthy home. Sadly in these cases, the presence of hoarding is likely to go unnoticed until the home owner is either too sick to care for themselves or has passed on, possibly in the home itself. In both situations, family members are left scrambling to take care of their relative as well as the distressed residence. Hiring a hoarding cleanup company such as , SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island saves time and emotional stress, while also limiting the family’s exposure to potentially dangerous biohazards.

Faced with a labor intensive and time consuming task, property managers also represent a significant segment of the potential client base for hoarding cleanup. Without the presence of relatives, landlords may be forced to handle a tenant’s hoarded space. Some owners, focused on recouping lost funds, aim to acquire new tenants as quickly as possible without spending money on additional cleaning crews. Few pause to think about the risks of doing the work themselves, or having a regular janitorial staff manage the job. Others, however, recognize potential complications may arise from improper remediation such as long-term damage, odors, stains, and health-related issues which can lead to costly vacancies, even fines and lawsuits.

Characteristics of Hoarded Homes

Even in minor cases of hoarding, many victims are reluctant to allow repairmen or home inspectors into the residence. Broken appliances and out-of-date electrical, plumbing, and other utilities contribute to the deteriorated state of the home. Leaking pipes can lead to water damage, and clogged drains and sewer blockage create biohazards and may lead to extreme situations down the road.

Long-term hoarding may also seriously damage the structure of a residence. In 2014, a Connecticut woman was found crushed to death in her basement where she’d been living after the first floor of the home gave way. Though this case is an extreme example, structural issues can easily jeopardize the homeowner’s insurance, and may lead to fines and other penalties if the home isn’t kept up to code. Many hoarders will not seek outside assistance until local authorities step in, which means remediation crews will need to decide if the unit is safe enough to perform the work required.

The worst cases of hoarding usually involve animals: feces, urine, and animal corpses are biohazards that require special attention.  SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island utilizes a three-step bio-wash process to ensure that all biological materials are removed from a residence, including washing, sanitizing, and deodorizing the entire home, followed by ATP testing to verify the cleaning is thorough and complete.

Not All Remediation Companies Perform Hoarding Cleanup

Cleaning service companies are proficient in a vast array of situations, but not all have the equipment, training, or waste disposal licensing to manage the biohazards present in hoarded homes. While conducting a cleanup, SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island employees must follow a plethora of safety regulations enforced by federal, state and local agencies. These same regulations and guidelines affect any person who is potentially exposed to hazardous biological fluids or materials as part of their work activities. Crews wear specialized personal protective clothing to avoid exposure to viruses and bacteria, and learn methods of cleaning designed to achieve the highest levels of sanitation possible.

Please look to the highly trained experts at SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island to help you when trying to deal with a hoarding issue.  This type of job is much more difficult, stressfull and time consuming that it originally appears.

Restore your Carpet with These Spring Carpet Cleaning Tips

5/1/2017 (Permalink)

Cleaning Restore your Carpet with These Spring Carpet Cleaning Tips Carpet Cleaning process

During the winter, people close their homes to keep out the cold weather and heat their homes more efficiently.  However, with your home closed up, dirt, dust mites, and other airborne debris will circulate through the home and settle into the carpet.  By the time the spring arrives, your carpet is full of dirt and debris from the winter that needs to be removed.  This is why carpet cleaning should be part of your spring cleaning effort.  Effective carpet cleaning will remove the debris that has been accumulating in your carpet all winter and help restore its look.  Removing this debris from your carpet will also contribute to a healthier environment in your home.

As you begin spring cleaning in your home, make sure you work in the following carpet cleaning tips to clean and restore your carpeting.  If you would like additional help cleaning your carpet, you can always call a professional for carpet cleaning services.

spring-carpet-cleaning Start by Vacuuming

Hopefully, you have been vacuuming your carpet regularly throughout the winter.  Regular vacuuming is the most effective way to maintain your carpet and remove much of the embedded debris from the fibers.  By removing the embedded dirt and debris, you can prevent your carpet from deteriorating or looking discolored.  You must continue to vacuum your carpet regularly in the spring and throughout the year to keep it in good shape.  Vacuuming does not remove everything though which is why you should consider annual professional carpet cleaning.

Use Welcome Mats

One way to protect your carpet from dirt and debris is to prevent the dirt from being tracked into your home in the first place.  Placing welcome mats by every entrance will encourage people to wipe their feet when they enter your home, reducing the dirt and debris being dragged in.  People will be walking in and out of your home more frequently in the spring and summer so make sure you have your welcome mats in place.

Remove Stains

Carpet stains are tough to remove and using an over-the-counter carpet stain remover can be damaging to your carpet if you don’t use it properly.  There are a couple of ways you can try removing carpet stains yourself without risking damage to the carpet.  Try treating the stains with a solution consisting of one cup of cold water and 1/4 teaspoon of liquid detergent with no bleach.  You can also try removing the stain using vinegar and an iron.  Make a solution that is one part vinegar to three parts water.  Dampen a towel with this solution and lay it over the stain.  Iron the towel over the stain until the stain transfers to the towel.  If these methods do not remove the stain, you can call a carpet cleaning professional to treat the stain with their specialized products.

 

Protect your Carpet from Stains

Applying a stain protector will help you prevent stains in the carpet, but these protectors wear out over time.  The spring season is the ideal time to re-apply a stain protector to your carpet.

Restore your Carpet with These Spring Carpet Cleaning Tips Clean Up Spills Quickly If something spills on your carpet, you must clean it up immediately.  The longer you leave a spill to soak up in the carpet fibers, the higher the risk for a stain.  Make sure you blot dry a spill as soon as it happens to prevent staining.

Remove Odors

Like other types of fabric, carpeting can absorb foul odors that can make the room smell bad.  Fortunately, you can remove odors from your carpet safely using a mixture of essential oils and baking soda.  Add 10-20 drops of essential oil to 16 ounces of baking soda and mix the solution so that the oils become absorbed completely into the baking soda.  Sprinkle the baking soda mixture onto the area of your carpet with the odor and let it sit for 5 minutes before removing it with the vacuum.  If the odors are persistent, you may need help from a carpet cleaning professional.

Fluff the Carpet

Heavy foot traffic and furniture can flatten or indent the carpet fibers which will make the carpet look worn out.  You can fluff the carpet fibers using only an ice cube, towel, and iron.  Start by letting the ice cube melt into the flattened or indented area.  Once the ice cube melts, use a towel to softly blot up the excess water and leave the moist towel laid over the area.  Turn the iron on a low setting and iron the moist towel until the fibers are mostly dry.  Let the carpet continue to air dry and then fluff up the fibers with your hands.

Call  SERVPRO of East Brownsville & SPI

By working these carpet cleaning tips into your spring cleaning routine, you can help you improve the look and condition of your carpet.  However, it is important to remember that while these tips do help, it takes professional carpet cleaning services to completely remove embedded debris and tough stains.  Carpet cleaning professionals use advanced cleaning equipment and methods that are designed to lift stubborn stains and debris safely out of all carpet types.  As you get your spring cleaning started, follow these tips to clean your carpet and call a professional if you need extra help.