Category archive - Cleaning

Be Aware of Asbestos

Be Aware of Asbestos

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Around the late 19th century, the use of the minerals known as asbestos was hitting its peak, at least in the United States and Canada. It started as a healthy mining business that begat uses in Westchester home construction and insulation, flame-and-acid-retardant materials, endless building materials (brick, concrete, drywall, flooring etc.) and even lawn furniture. In Japan, a few decades later, it was even used to help rice production, but even at that point, the alarming dangers of asbestos had been largely accepted and were commonly known in the UK and U.S., though the later was tragically late to the party in terms of regulation and education of the dangers.

So, it’s been a little over 70 years since the U.S. caught up to the UK, but the danger the material can cause to your loved ones is hardly a past matter: Cases of cancer in people who work with asbestos or live in close proximity to it are astonishingly higher than the norm. Asbestos is made of long thin fibers and looks similar to fiberglass in consistency. Because of the strengthening, heat resistance and soundproofing qualities, asbestos was used to mold a myriad of materials used in homes in Westchester and elsewhere, including tiling and pipe insulation; it is even commonly found in the production of brake pads. Today, a little less than 850,000 homes, offices and schools can be found to include asbestos and over 20,000 people will die each year for the next 30 years from asbestos exposure. These are not good numbers.

It’s not easy: Asbestos is a notoriously tricky substance. If pained over, asbestos is not easy to locate in a regular home. Scraping and home construction can send asbestos particles into the air, where it can be breathed in by anyone. Even a second layer of wallboard shakes fibers loose, allowing the fibers to drift into the air you breathe. And sadly, this is one of those precautions that depend on professionally trained individuals being paid to do their job.

New coatings techniques enhance the encapsulation of asbestos in walls and ceilings, and have proven highly effective in diminishing the toxic elements of the material. Home asbestos test kits are available at most major home improvement stores, typically include 2 sample collectors, and are dependent on lab analysis, which will run you less than $20. Popcorn and textured ceilings, ceiling tiles, floor tiles and pipe insulation are major culprits and should be collected and tested as soon as possible. The laboratory test identifies asbestos fibers to as little as 1 percent content by weight and is more sensitive than the current EPA standards. So, take an afternoon, collect the samples while following the directions on the test kit closely, and send them into the lab. You’ll have your answer within two weeks and by that time, know if its time to give your Westchester home an overhaul or call the real estate agent.


How Many Coats of Paint Does It Take?

How Many Coats of Paint Does It Take?

In many cases, the wish to find a personal, creative color scheme for your Westchester home dissolves within minutes of entering the paint aisle. What finish? What shade? How many coats?! It can be exhausting and it’s easy enough to just throw your arms in the air and say “Lets just go with off-white!” No hit against off-white (its popular for a reason), but with a little knowledge, picking the color to match your dream interior is easy as pie.

In most cases, it is the focus on color and neglect of finish that throws many Westchester homeowners. Paints come in a variety of colors, sure, but they also come with different finishes and other elements that create a unique look. Matte paint, for instance, is the most common type of paint, which gives no shine or sheen when dried. It’s a relatively cheap choice but matte paint also requires at least two coats of painting and damage is often highly visible. Matte enamel is a good alternative, as it rarely requires touch-ups.

Gloss paint is also popular, boasting a finish that provides a high shine, but it similarly requires two or more coats and fails to hide damage. There’s also semi-gloss, which is more common on trim than walls because it offers a hard finish and is easy to clean. On the other hand, satin gives a finish that’s lands somewhere between matte and gloss and only requires one coat. It provides a low, soft sheen and is easy to clean.  Eggshell finish has a muted shine, but without the satin smoothness.

 

Even before you get to painting, however, a coat or two of primer will likely be required before you dip your brush in some color. If you don’t have the time or inclination to paint the same room four times, however, look for paints with built-in primers, which will likely only require two coats total. And when locating your chosen color, take a closer look and examine the color’s undertones. The undertones of your color will help guide you to a more clear, streamlined color scheme in your home and rooms.

Every color has a mass tone and an undertone. The mass tone is the color your eyes pick up first. Undertones are visible only when placed next to other, similar colors; the differentiation will bring out the undertones lurking below the surface color. You’ll suddenly see small, surprising differences between the seemingly near-interchangeable colors. If you’re looking at neutral colors, place your neutral swatch next to a pure color (red, yellow, green, blue, etc.). If your neutral has a specific undertone, a pure swatch of the opposite color will bring it to light. Now, your Westchester home colors will express everything that is you, not just your frustration and exhaustion.


Cleaning Out Showerhead Crud

Cleaning Out Showerhead Crud

For Westchester homeowners, replacing a shower washer is one of the simplest and quickest plumbing repairs you can undertake and it is usually the source of many leaks one finds in regards to showerheads. While performing the repair, you’re also able to clean and maintain basic parts of the shower and de-scale the showerhead to ensure that you won’t have to fix or replace the washer again for a while.

To begin, turn off the water to the area where you will be working. This may involve turning off the water at the main supply. Let the shower run until no more water comes through and turn it off, and then remove the showerhead, either by using a wrench to loosen it from the shower pipe or screwing it off. You can use the same wrench to loosen the nut from the faucet and then remove the tube. When you loosen the showerhead and remove it from the hose, you might find a build-up of lime or scale, which can be cleaned easily enough in the process.

If you want to be diligent Westchester homeowner and keep these situations from happening again, you should clean the showerhead and washers once a year. To do this, fill a large bowl with vinegar and submerge the showerhead in the vinegar for an hour. When it’s done soaking, empty the bowl and clean the showerhead with water. Once it’s free of lime, you should be able to take apart the showerhead easily. First, however, take out the old shower washer to a hardware store to find an exact replacement. Upon returning, take apart the showerhead and secure the replacement before screwing the showerhead back together. You can use Teflon tape on the shower-arm thread to ensure no leaks. When screwing the showerhead back onto the arm, be careful not to screw it on too tightly, as this can lead to further showerhead issues.

Many Westchester homeowners have hand-held showerheads. For a hand-held shower, you should replace both washers. Its not particularly necessary, but it is better to be cautious. In this case, use the Teflon tape on the threads of the hose where the showerhead screws on, and also on the threads of the faucet where the hose attaches. In either case, when you’re finished, turn the water back on and run the shower for a minute or two and then turn it off to ensure the leak has been fixed. If there is an issue, tighten the connections a little more but otherwise, you should be able to use your shower without any subsequent drips.


Kitchen-Sink Cleaners and Cleaning

Kitchen-Sink Cleaners and Cleaning

In all likelihood, you’ll have at least one weekend in the near future devoted to scrubbing, sweeping, picking up, dusting off and tossing out scraps around your home. Between trash bags and scrubbing brushes, new appliances and garden supplies, you’re spending enough, so why not concoct some easy DIY air fresheners and cleaning supplies instead of loading up your shopping cart and depleting your bank account? Here are a few tips:

  •    An easy way to keep your kitchen smelling great is to take a few oranges, lemon, or any major citrus fruit, cut them in half, and boil them in a pot with water filled up about halfway on a stovetop. If you want a more homey smell, add mull spices to make your kitchen smell like hot cider.
  • In your more troublesome smell areas, place small bowls and fill them with freshly ground coffee. Ground coffee is a potent, deep and pleasant odor and it also acts as an excellent absorber of all your most funky and foul stinks. If you live with a smoker or just have one lying around, an ashtray is the perfect place to put the grounds.
  • Not all that keen on spending more money on clog remover? Pour a cup of baking soda, a cup of white vinegar, a cup of salt (generic or sea) and then pour about two-to-three cups of boiling water down, as a reactant. The resulting mixture will likely dissolve any small-to-medium-size clog you’re having trouble with.
  • For window cleaning, mix about a quarter-to-half-cup of vinegar, a tablespoon or two of cornstarch and a quart of hot water. This mixture is a surefire way to get all those annoying streaks off of your windows or your patio doors in a jiffy.
  • Mix a quarter-cup of baking soda and a quart of hot water for a perfect all-purpose cleaner for your floors, countertops, walls and tables. If you want to add some fresh scents, squeeze half a lemon into the mixture or add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. This way your house will smell and look fresh, and you can use the money saved on some colorful pieces for your unique décor.

Be Yourself With A New, Personalized Backsplash

Be Yourself With A New, Personalized Backsplash

Kitchen renovations are expensive, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that one’s kitchen has to remain a dull workspace for home cooking. A very popular way to give a kick of color and personality to a kitchen is installing a new kitchen backsplash with some personally chosen tiles. And whether you currently have a backsplash or merely painted drywall in your kitchen, the job is, as it turns out, relatively easy from a DIY standpoint, though removing old backsplash can get a bit messy to say the least.

In the case of painted drywall, you can start by sanding the area to rough up the surface for installation. If you already have a tile backsplash, however, you need to get rid of it completely, which tends to involve cutting out and getting rid of both the drywall and the attached tiles before putting the new backer board onto the studs; cement backer is best but green drywall is ultimately almost as good.

Now, its measuring time! You’ll need to get the length of the backsplash and measure the distance from the top of your counter to the bottom of your top cabinets to calculate what will be your tiled area. Now, this is where you begin to have fun. Use graph paper and draw a scale outline to see how you’ll want to set-up your tile pattern. 4 x 4, 6 x 6 or 3 x 4 subway tiles tend to be the favored types but using 1 x 1 tiles attached to a back mesh has become just as popular over the years. Calculate your tile quantities from there but be sure to tack on 10-15% for cutting and wastage and be sure that you’re using glazed tiles.

So, when you get back from the Home Depot or local hardware store, it’s time to install. First, remove the stove or range hood, outlet or switch cover plates, and anything else that will be in the way of a precise tiling job. (Also, be sure to turn of the electricity to that particular area!) If you need to, install the backer board first by using galvanized drywall screws. A 1/8″ gap between the edges is a solid distance when installing the boards. Use mesh wire and filler to cover. In case of any gaps (ex. the range area), use a temporary ledger board along the base of your tile line to help hold your tiles in place. Find, mark and draw a visible startling line with a level at the central focal point of your design. This is to line up your tiles vertically in the correct way.

It’s best to lay your tiles out somewhere open, just to have the design set in your head, and then get ready to place the tiles. From the center, begin with the bottom row. You will need tile mastic or thin-set mortar to set the tiles. Add a little of either to a small section of the wall using a trowel, preferably grooved. Put the edge of the first tile on the starting line you made and remember to leave a 1/8″ gap on the bottom for caulking. Press the first tile into place, then put in a temporary 1/8″ spacer vertically and continue on like this.

At one point, you will likely have to cut a tile to fit certain areas and for this, you will need a scoring cutter, which can be rented or purchased. Mark on the tile where you will need to cut before putting the tile in the tool and scoring said mark on the surface. Used properly, the cutter will break the tile along the scored line. In the case of an electrical outlet, you may be need to cut two tiles and then use tile nippers to cut out the opening and put them on each side of the outlet. After the tiles are in place, apply a mixed sandless grout with a rubber float. Make sure to push it down into the gaps between the tiles and remove any excess grout. Then, just let it set for about an hour or so.

Use and regularly rinse wet sponges for the cleanup and it doesn’t hurt to employ a clean dry cloth to give the tiles a good buff and shine. 
Your electrical outlets will likely need box extenders before you place the cover plates back on and then, finally, apply caulk, preferably the same color as your chosen grout, all along the bottom seam where the backsplash meets the countertop. With this, your kitchen should not only be a workspace but will emanate the feeling of a distinct place for friends and family to take a moment and share a story or take a peak at what you’re preparing.


When do you find time to clean?

When do you find time to clean?

For many homeowners, the answer to the question “when do you find time to clean?” is sadly, “never”! Although everyone understands the value of a clean and well organized space, it can be almost impossible to maintain a busy schedule and a pristine home at the same time. Once you fulfill your professional obligations, find time to socialize, and squeeze in a welcome workout, cleaning can fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, a messy home can quickly take its toll on your state of mind and productivity, leaving you with low energy levels, a depressed mood and a lack of organization. For homeowners in Westchester, maid services can help you to eliminate this problem and enjoy a spotless home without sacrificing the rest of your life.

It’s well known that your home reflects your state of mind – and vice versa. A beautifully clean space can make you feel invigorated and energized, whereas a messy and dirty home can sap your vitality and leave you feeling glum. Although most homeowners have the best of intentions when it comes to the cleanliness of their homes, other aspects of life can quickly get in the way – and leave your house less than pristine. For busy homeowners in Westchester, a main service can help you to keep your house sparkling while maintaining an active social and professional life.

If you want to maintain a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere in your home in Westchester, maid services can help you to do so. Most maid services allow you to determine your own cleaning schedule; whether your require a deep cleaning once per month, or a weekly touch-up, most maid services will tailor their schedule to your specific needs. Hiring a professional maid to keep your home clean can do wonders for your state of mind, and help your house to look its best, no matter how little spare time you have!


Need a new floor? Polish your old one

Need a new floor? Polish your old one

There are few things that combine beauty, timeless elegance and durability like genuine wood floors. Real hardwood imparts classic style to your home, complimenting any decorating scheme and giving a sense of warmth and comfort combined with matchless good taste. Whether your home’s architecture is sleek and contemporary or cozy and old-fashioned, wood floors can compliment your décor and make your home look and feel great. Not only is hardwood a beautiful material, it also feels wonderful underfoot, giving you a warm surface with just a hint of spring that can make standing for long periods easier on your joints and more comfortable for your body. For homeowners in Westchester, floor polishing can help give your old floors new life and bring back their shine.

One of the greatest advantages of wood as a flooring material is its durability, and the way in which it can be reinvented time and again. Like any component of your home, your floors are faced with daily wear and tear as they’re walked over, spilled on, and subjected to the ravages of shoes, paws and countless of other items. Scuffs, scrapes and scratches can cause the surface of your floors to look dull and worn, robbing them of their smooth finish and diminishing their looks as well as their smooth feel underfoot. If you’ve found that the wood floors have lost their sheen in your home in Westchester, floor polishing is an excellent way to restore their brilliance and make them look brand-new again.

For homeowners in Westchester, floor polishing is an economical way in which to renew your floors and make a substantial improvement to your home. Rather than going to the time, trouble and expense of having your floors completely replaced, having them professionally polished can give you that new-floor look at a fraction of the cost!


Wash It All Away

Wash It All Away

Your home’s exterior makes an impression before guests and visitors even walk through the door. Whether you built your house from the ground up, or carefully chose it among many, it’s likely that a large part of the reason your home initially appealed to you was because of its external features. The outside of a home has the power to charm, attract and enchant – but it can also have the opposite effect! If you want your home to make the best possible impression, it’s essential that its exterior be appealing. For homeowners in Westchester, power wash cleaning can do wonders for your home’s exterior, making it look brand-new again and insuring that it will make a fabulous first impression.

For homeowners in Westchester, power wash cleaning can make a major difference in how your house looks – and how you feel about your house! Everyday weathering can cause a home’s exterior to appear dingy, making the exterior look dull and unattractive. A professional power washing can strip away years of accumulated grime, erasing the effects of weathering and making your home’s exterior look just as good as the interior. If you want your house to stand out in your neighborhood, power washing is a great way to differentiate it from the other, dingier houses in your area and make it shine.

For homeowners in Westchester, power wash cleaning is one of the most economical ways to make your house look beautiful. In contrast to exterior painting, which can take a long time and be quite costly, pressure washing gives your home’s exterior new life in a matter of hours. As well as making it look fantastic, power washing can help to increase the longevity of your siding, by stripping away moss, lichen, mildew and other things that can accumulate and contribute to weathering. If you want to make a substantial improvement to your home’s exterior, have it pressure-washed – you’ll be glad you did!


House in need of a powerwash?

House in need of a powerwash?

As every busy homeowner knows, keeping your house clean can be a big challenge. Although it can be difficult to fit cleaning into your busy schedule, however, you know that it’s an essential part of home maintenance. Not only is a clean house healthier and happier, it’s also much better for entertaining than a dirty, messy one. Even though most homeowners are committed to keeping the inside of their house clean – either by finding the time to do it themselves, or by hiring a professional cleaning service – not many people think about the cleanliness of their home’s exterior. However, whether the outside of your home is clean or dirty has a big impact, too! If you want the best possible presentation for your Westchester home, exterior power washing can be a great first step.

Just like anything else that is exposed to the elements, a home’s exterior can become dingy and dirty over time. The effects of weathering from wind, sun, snow, rain and hail can leave the outside of your house looking less than pristine, and mildew, moss and lichen can eventually lead to damage to your siding. If you want to reduce the effects of weathering on your Westchester home, exterior power washing could be just what you need!

If you want your home to stand out on your block – in a good way – having its exterior cleaned can help. You’d be amazed at the difference a simple power washing can make to your home’s appearance, transforming it from dull and grimy to bright and new looking. Passersby, guests and visitors to your home will find your house much more attractive and inviting – and so will you! Professional exterior cleaners can help you keep the outside of your house as clean as you keep the inside, adding beauty and longevity to your home. Best of all, this is one cleaning job you can feel great about leaving to the pros!