Author Archive for Hansen

Scary Black SHADOWS on Your Carpet?

You may have noticed it in your own home, or the home of a neighbor or friend– dark, dirty-looking lines in the carpet around the baseboards, under doors and on stairs. What is it? Can it be removed? Will it come back?

The dark greyish or black discolorations that occur around the perimeter of rooms and in the doorways of some houses can sometimes be a source of embarrassment and frustration. Our customers rely on us not only to clean their carpets, but also to educate them about how to maintain their carpet. Before we explain what these mysterious dark lines are, we’ll talk about what they are not.

Contrary to what you may think, it has absolutely nothing to do with accumulated dust from poor housekeeping. It is not a defect in carpet. And although some believe it to be mold, it is not. Even pest control companies have been wrongly accused of causing these unsightly lines with their treatments. So, what IS it? It’s called filtration soiling.

Although it can happen in any home, filtration soiling is most common in homes that have forced air HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems. At certain locations in the carpet, air is being forced through the fibers by pressure and temperature differentials. The carpet fibers act as a filter, trapping pollutants that are in the air.

Some of these pollutants are the product of combustion and contain carbon. Common sources are automobile exhaust, industrial air pollution, tobacco smoke, and even natural gas or oil furnaces. This carbon, combined with oily residues from cooking and other sources, adheres to the carpet with very powerful electrostatic and chemical bonds.

The particles themselves are extremely small and very difficult to remove. The best course of action is prevention. Here are a few tips to prevent gray edges appearing:

Make sure that any means of combustion in your home including gas or oil heating systems, cooking appliances and water heaters are operating properly. Incomplete combustion caused by improperly functioning appliances contains higher levels of carbon. This can cause rapid soiling.

Have heat exchangers, flues and chimneys checked by an HVAC professional for leaks or improper function. If you like to burn candles, limit how often you use the heavily scented ones. The oils used in these candles do not burn completely adding to the pollutants in the air, accelerating filtration soiling.

Install high quality air filters in your heating and air system. This may require modifications to the system. Check with a qualified contractor. Consider using air purifiers, especially if smokers are present in the home. Tobacco smoke produces one of the most difficult residues to remove.

When using a fireplace or wood stove, ensure that there is adequate fresh air entry so as to create enough of an updraft for the fireplace. Otherwise some of the smoke may get into the air and contribute to soil filtration. You may need to open a window a little. Don’t turn on ceiling fans in areas where you have a fireplace burning. Air currents may pull smoke into the living space.

Hansen Steam Way uses specialized cleaning agents and techniques to treat soil filtration lines. Although complete removal of the discoloration may not be possible, we can usually improve the appearance. Of course, prevention is always your best line of defense.

Sleeping as You Get Older

As we get older, our sleep needs can change. It is understood that children and adolescents need more sleep than adults, but surprisingly, older adults may also need to get more sleep. It is recommended that seniors get at least seven hours of sleep, but some need up to nine hours per night.

Unfortunately, many seniors struggle to get the sleep they need. Sleep disturbances can increase with age. Older adults often find it difficult to fall asleep, and they sleep less deeply. They also tend to wake up more during the night. Older adults also often find that they get sleepier earlier in the evening and if they do not shift their bedtime earlier, they can lose needed sleep time.

Why do seniors have these common sleep problems? As you age, your body produces less melatonin, the sleep hormone. You can also become more sensitive to environmental disturbances— temperature, sounds, and light. Finally, seniors have more medical problems, which can lead to unsettled sleep patterns. Poor sleep can lead to depression, decreased attention spans, memory problems, increased risk of falls, and greater use of overthe-counter sleep aids. This can all lead to a lower quality of life.

Many seniors depend on daytime naps to counteract the problems associated with diminished night sleeping. There are some treatments that can help. Your doctor can recommend ways to safely get the sleep you need. You should also make good nutrition and daily exercise a part of your life. These contribute to your general well-being, which promotes good sleep habits as well.

EMERGENCY Preparedness Month

Create an emergency preparedness kit with these items:

  • Three day supply of water and food per person (and pet)
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a water proof container
  • Flashlights
  • Battery operated radio
  • Cell phone with extra batteries
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Three day supply of medication
  • Travelers checks, cash and change
  • Pencil and paper
  • Personal hygiene items and feminine supplies
  • If you have a baby, don’t forget disposable diapers and wipes
  • For children, include books, games and puzzles

Getting ready for a disaster or emergency sounds like a lot of work. But if one occurs, you’ll be glad you put your time and money into the project.

BEST Plane Ticket Prices

Frequent travelers or those looking to book a trip will score the best fare prices when they purchase tickets about 70 days in advance of their flights, according to the most recent study by CheapAir.

The analyzed 917 million airplane ticket prices at the time of purchase to uncover this prime purchase window which is up from 54 days during the previous year. Although many casual flyers might guess that tickets will be the cheapest when booking as far out as possible, there could be a $50 premium on tickets purchased 169 to 319 days in advance and a $20 premium for those at 122 to 168 days out.

The least popular days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, which also make them the cheapest. Avoid Friday or Sunday, which are the most popular days. Also look for very early or very late travewl times to find better deals and discounts.

Camping for FOODIES

Sure, hot dogs are yummy and s’mores are fun and sentimental, but does the camping menu have to be so limited? No it does not. From hot breakfast sandwiches to decadent desserts, campground food can be anything you’d like.

Two words: foil packets. Use aluminum foil to cook any number of goodies, including grilled vegetables, salmon with garlic and spices, or barbecue chicken.

Bring the cast-iron skillets and make everything from cornbread and chili, campfire pizza and nachos to paella or beef stroganoff.

Use those skewers to heat up cinnamon rolls. Imagine the combination of aromas: campfire, hot coffee, cinnamon rolls, and the great outdoors.

Don’t forget the drinks! In addition to beer and wine, consider campground sangria, which you can mix ahead of time and enjoy when you’re ready. Mix some fruit, wine, something carbonated, and boom: sangria.

Prepare Your Home for Winter NOW

Now that the dog days of summer (heat) are almost over, and the crisp fall weather is slowly making an appearance, it’s time to walk around your home sweet home. This is the perfect time of year to take care of any home maintenance and cleaning issues before winter’s arrival.

We know how important your time is, and we really know how important it is to keep your home healthy. Below are some important things to look for when making a personal home inspection. The following recommendations are simple to do. However, it may be safer for you to hire the services of qualified professionals to do some of these checks for you or to interpret your findings. Saving money is good, but not at the risk of injury.

Home Exterior :

Fall is the perfect time to inspect your home’s exterior. Temperature and humidity changes cause materials to shift, contract and expand. UV radiation from the sun affects paint, caulk, shingles, wood, rubber and vinyl. As a result, the exterior envelope of your home may not be as “tight” as it was this spring. As weather gets cooler, materials tend to shrink and harden. The air is drier, resulting in further shrinkage as materials lose moisture. Rubber seals around doors and windows become brittle. Look around your doors and windows. How does the caulking look? Caulk should be flexible, smooth and tight to the surface being sealed. If it is cracking, brittle and deteriorated, it should be scraped out and replaced. Is the weather stripping intact? Do windows close and seal properly? Can you see daylight or feel air leaking around doors? Downspouts and gutters should be cleaned and inspected. Are there soil depressions directly below the gutter? If you see depressions, chances are the gutters have been overflowing. Gutters that don’t drain properly increase risk of foundation damage. Downspouts should be extended at least 10 feet away from the home to ensure proper drainage.

Home Interior:

Modern carpets do a great job of hiding soil. This may lead you to think you only need to clean your carpets once a year or when they “look” dirty. But according to the EPA, most households should clean carpets at least twice a year, maybe more depending on lifestyle and other factors. This may surprise you until you think about all of the soils, allergens, oils, dander, pollutants and contaminants that carpet traps. One of the best reasons for cleaning in the fall is that you want your home to look great for visiting friends and relatives during the upcoming Holidays. Nothing makes your home feel clean and inviting quite like freshly cleaned carpets and upholstery. Even if you don’t expect guests, you will be spending more time at home in the winter, so you want it to look nice for you, too. Of course, there are far more important reasons to clean your carpet than appearance. Soil damages carpet, dramatically reducing its usable life. During the summer, pollen and other pollutants enter your home and become trapped in the carpets. In the fall, mold spores are more prevalent, again, becoming trapped in your carpet fibers. With clean carpet now, you and your family can breathe cleaner, healthier air all season long. It’s bad enough that fall and winter are the seasons when people suffer from cold and flu without adding poor indoor air quality to aggravate conditions such as asthma and allergies. This fall, taking care of home maintenance and cleaning is a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy home! Call HANSEN STEAM WAY for more information and tips or to schedule your next cleaning.

Air Conditioning Efficiency TIPS

Summer time can bring some high utility bills, as we crank air conditioners. It’s a good idea, whether for your wallet or for the environment, to consider tips for making your air conditioner work more efficiently.

First, check the seals. Check around window units to make sure they are sealed and that extra heat isn’t getting into the house in the first place.

Check also that your attic is properly insulated, which does just as much good in the summer as it can in the winter. Insulation prevents attic heat from leaking into your home and also the cool air from escaping.

Keep your filter clean so the unit can operate better and keep vents clear. And consider ceiling fans to better circulate the air.

If you have central air, make sure the ducts are checked regularly; not only do they accumulate allergens, but they work harder when they get clogged and dirty.

Go on a MONEY Date

Ever heard of a money date? It’s a thing. On a money date, spouses agree to get together to talk finances in a (allegedly) fun and non-threatening way. The idea is to keep on top of budgets and, perhaps more importantly, to work together on goal-setting.

The idea is to keep it affordable, so that might entail staying home with a good bottle of wine or out to a quiet dinner where you can talk.

Pro Tip: tackle the heavy lifting issues prior to finishing that first glass of wine.

For singles: you can take yourself on a money date, too. This thing with money IS a relationship, even with ourselves.

Setting aside scheduled time to talk about finances forces you to focus and not get distracted by other life demands.

Put it on your calendar, and don’t forget to bring your laptop and some pens and paper. Yes, even to a restaurant.

What is KOMBUCHA?

As it rises in popularity, the fermented drink has gained its cult following – as well as its haters. Seems no one stands in the middle: you love it or hate it.

Fermented food and drinks are high on the food trend list in 2019, as people seek ways to work probiotics into their diets via their food rather than in pill form.

For the uninitiated, kombucha is a type of effervescent fermented tea (though not an alcoholic drink) that originated in China around 2,000 years ago. It has a base of sugar, tea, bacteria and yeast. It has a bitter taste that can take some getting used to, and comes in a wide variety of flavors from a wide variety of brands.

Proponents claim health benefits from gut health to reduced inflammation, improved cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, antibacterial properties, and even a reduced risk of cancer. Today, it can be commonly found in most grocery stores or made at home.

Pet Urine PROBLEMS?

Our pets don’t understand why we make such a big deal of a little urine on the carpet. To animals, urine is an important social tool that is used as a calling card, mate attractant or a territorial warning. Urine lets other members of the species know important information regarding their gender, age and health.

Animal urine is a rather benign substance. When it leaves a healthy animal it is sterile. In small amounts and low concentration, the odor and appearance may be undetectable. Still, any urine deposit on carpet should be treated appropriately.

If you are lucky enough to catch the animal in the act, you can pour salt liberally onto the urine while it is still wet. Use enough salt to completely cover the spot. The salt will absorb and neutralize the urine. Let it dry for 8-12 hours and vacuum it away.

But most of the time, the urine is already dry by the time we find it. Applying a neutral carpet cleaning agent, gentle agitation and a thorough rinse may be enough to treat light urine deposits. Finish the job by placing a folded white towel on the area. Set a weight, such as phone book on the towel and leave overnight. The remaining moisture and residue will wick into the towel.

Once urine contamination has reached the point that it has penetrated the carpet and the cushion, removal of the odor becomes more difficult. Heavy urine deposits are much more challenging to treat and you will need the help of Hansen Steam Way.

Why? Because urine undergoes a dramatic chemical change as it ages. The water in the urine evaporates and leaves behind organic compounds that become more and more concentrated.

Bacteria begin to consume the urine and break down the proteins, sugars and other organics. During the process of bacterial digestion the bacteria secrete ammonia and a strong, pungent odor becomes apparent. The urine turns from a mild acid to a strong alkali. This strong alkaline deposit attacks the dyes in some carpets. Over time, the dyes can be weakened or removed, causing permanent color-loss.

The adhesives used in the carpet backing can be dissolved, and the carpet can literally fall apart. Permanent damage to wood subfloors will also result from deep penetration of concentrated urine deposits, requiring additional expensive repairs. The most critical action to prevent permanent damage is to act quickly when you notice a spot.

Hansen Steam Way has several techniques available to clean and deodorize pet contamination. In addition, there are different cleaning and deodorizing agents in our arsenal. The decision of which methods and agents to use will depend on several factors such as; the amount of contamination present, the depth of penetration, the construction of the carpet, the fiber content, the installation method, the subfloor type and the size of the affected area must all be considered.

There are times when the damage is too severe and the best option is to replace the carpet. In such situations, we can assist by sealing the sub-floor and adjacent materials with a specialized odor-counteracting sealer so that the new carpet does not inherit the old odor problem.

If you have a pet odor problem, the best action is to call Hansen Steam Way for a professional assessment of the situation. We are experts at handling difficult odor problems and can help you to choose the right solution.

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