Archive for October 2016

It’s Only New Once

It’s Only New Once
Remember when your carpet was brand new? You vowed you would take your shoes off when you came into the house and vacuum twice a week. No eating in the living room! If anything spilled, you cleaned it up immediately. While these are great promises to make to yourself, even the best kept carpet needs to be cleaned regularly. And, if you are willing to admit that you have perhaps slacked off on these promises, your carpet might need to be cleaned more than you realize. In addition, there are other things you can do to keep your carpets looking great.

Your Carpet can “Look” New Again
Many people get their carpets cleaned and suddenly they see their carpet through new eyes, saying, “My carpets look like new!” It’s true, cleaning  your carpets can make them look so much better that it almost feels like you have new carpet all over again. But, like everything else, carpet ages.

Color is usually the most important factor in how a carpet looks. As long as the color looks vibrant and there are no major spots or stains, most of us are quite happy with the look of our carpet. But why does the color start to look tired after a few years even after our best efforts at cleaning? Why can’t we make it look new again? Isn’t that dull, lifeless appearance in the traffic areas just dirt? No doubt, dirt is a contributing factor, but there are three other factors that cause carpet to look old: abrasion, crushing and pile distortion.

Abrasion – Dirt is loose particulate soil tracked in from outside, including mud, pollution, pollen and gritty minerals that scratch and dull the surface of carpet fibers. This abrasion changes the way light reflects off of the scratched fibers so colors are muted. We call this permanent condition loss of luster. This is the primary reason that colors lose their vibrancy. Imagine a car that is scratched with sandpaper. No amount of cleaning can bring back the luster.

Pile crush – Areas that are subject to a lot of foot traffic will crush down and lose some pile height. The carpet loses its soft, fluffy appearance and feel. How severely depends on the fiber type, yarn density, pile depth and quality of carpet pad.

Pile distortion – When pile yarns lose their twist or the yarns are aligned in different directions, high traffic areas can appear dull and dingy. Once the carpet pile has become distorted it cannot be corrected. Some carpets are more prone to this type of appearance change than others.
Keeping Your Carpets Looking New Longer

Here are a few tips you can use to keep your carpet looking newer longer:

• Keep soils out of the home as much as possible. Use doormats at all entrances and take off your shoes when coming in from outside.

• Regular vacuuming is the best thing you can do to reduce damage caused by gritty dirt.

• In areas where there is a lot of traffic, you can reduce wear by rearranging furnishings to redirect traffic.

• Use carpet runners to limit crushing and pile distortion.

• Regular cleaning before your carpet looks dirty is an important line of defense. Once soils have built up to the point of being obvious the damage is already done.

• Applying a professional carpet protector after every cleaning is another great way to assure your carpet stays beautiful longer.

Remember, carpet is only new once but with care you can keep it looking good for years to come.

Do You Breathe Easy at Home? How to Control Indoor Air Pollution

Do You Breathe Easy at Home? How to Control Indoor Air Pollution

Pollution. We use the word to describe harmful or poisonous substances introduced into an environment.  Water pollution, ground pollution, noise pollution, and air pollution are examples we most commonly relate to the outdoor environment. So it may surprise you to find that the United States   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published reports that indoor air is 2-5 and in some cases up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside.

This article will give you some recommendations to make your indoor air cleaner, healthier and safer. But first, the basics…

What is “Air”?
Air is a mixture of gases that make up Earth’s atmosphere. The part of the atmosphere that contains the right mixture of gases to support life contains nitrogen and oxygen, as well as trace amounts of argon, carbon dioxide, helium, neon and other gases. Air also contains variable amounts of water vapor. We refer to the amount of suspended water vapor as humidity.

Humidity Plays an Important Role in Indoor Air Quality
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends maintaining indoor relative humidity levels between 30% and 50% for human healthand comfort. Higher humidity can create an environment where microbes can flourish and create an unsanitary condition.

In addition, higher humidity can result in condensation of water on surfaces. This can hold soils and organic matter, creating a perfect incubator for mold, which can exacerbate asthma and allergies.

Air Suspends Particles
Most airborne particles are harmless. However, others can cause problems, particularly for those with asthma, allergies or immune disorders. There are four keys to keeping your indoor air clean and healthy: exclude, capture, clean and control.

Exclude – Keep contaminants out
Keeping contaminants out of the home is challenging because most airborne particles are tiny and can be everywhere. Pollen, carbon, mold spores, organic matter, insect matter, car exhaust, and plain old dirt  enter the home, transported on air currents, clothing and shoes.

Reduce entry by keeping your doors and windows shut, removing shoes when entering and immediately changing your clothing after dusty activities like yard work.

There are other contaminants that originate from within the home. Pet and human dander, food  particles, dust mites and their feces, cooking gases, sprays, chemicals, cleaning agents and many other  particulates combine to reduce overall indoor air quality. Controlling these can be tricky, because they result from every day living activities. Your best defense is to capture, clean and control them.

Capture – filter and contain that which enters
When airborne particles enter your home, they remain suspended for a period of time. Large and dense particles drop out of the air and settle onto surfaces. Smaller, lighter particles remain suspended longer– some nearly indefinitely – and are best removed by air filtration devices and the filter on your home’s HVAC system.

Pay attention to the filters you use. Use high quality pleated filters. Don’t buy based on price alone. Get filters that are rated MERV 7 or 8. Higher MERV ratings may place excessive restriction on your ventilation system, requiring a change in configuration. Talk to an HVAC professional for more information about how to improve filtration on your ventilation system.

Clean – remove pollutants from surfaces
Eventually, particles settle on surfaces such as floors, furniture, counters, window sills, shelves and walls. Vacuuming and dusting removes most of the particles, but make sure that your vacuum cleaner has good filtration too.

Hard surfaces can be cleaned with electrostatic dusters or dust cloths that attract and hold particles, or  by wiping hard surfaces with a damp cloth and wet mopping floors. Other surfaces such as carpet, area rugs and upholstery will require periodic professional cleaning to remove accumulated soils and pollutants.

Control – maintain equipment, humidity levels and filters
Proper maintenance is important. Ensure your vacuum cleaner, AC unit, range hood and other  ventilation equipment are working properly. Clean or replace furnace filters at recommended intervals;  usually monthly depending on the type of filter and environmental conditions.

Hansen Steam Way can help you breathe easier indoors with regularly scheduled professional carpet and upholstery cleaning. Call us today to set up your clean and healthy maintenance program.

Healthy Babies

Healthy Babies

Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) is the sudden, unexpected, and unexplained death of a child under one year of age and is sometimes referred to as “crib death.” Although no one knows what causes SIDS, there are some things you can do to make your baby safer.

• Place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Although for many years, this was not considered good advice, studies have now shown that this contributes greatly towards reducing the chance of an occurrence of SIDS. Not all babies should sleep on their backs however. Discuss this with your doctor if your baby has any medical, eating, or congenital problems.
• Babies should never be placed in a crib or bed with large, loose, or fluffy blankets, pillows, or comforters. There should not be any gaps between the mattress and the crib frame.
• The temperature in the room should be kept at a comfortable level. Do not allow your baby to get too warm.
• Establish a smoke-free zone around your baby. Research indicates that cigarette smoke in your baby’s environment increases the risk of SIDS.          • Breastfeed your baby, even if for only a short period of time. Breast milk contributes to your baby’s overall health and can decrease the risk of SIDS.

Is your vacuum cleaner getting the job done?

Is your vacuum cleaner getting the job done?

Regular vacuuming is the most effective way to prolong the life of your carpets. By removing dry particulate soils, you help prevent premature wear caused by abrasive soils grinding away at carpet fibers. A good quality vacuum cleaner that is maintained and used properly does a great job of removing pollutants and contaminants from your home.  You don’t have to spend a fortune, but don’t skimp on quality either. A quality vacuum cleaner is well worth the investment.

There are a few things that you should know about your vacuum cleaner to prevent possible fiber damage, loss of performance and even possible health problems.

Your Vacuum and Airborne Particles

All vacuum cleaners use some kind of motor to turn fans that produce airflow. This airflow is used to   convey soils into a collection receptacle such as a canister or bag. The air must be filtered before it is exhausted back into your home’s environment. This is the basic function of all vacuum cleaners.

But not all vacuums are created equal. Some are better at filtering small particles than others. One micron is one millionth of a meter. The smallest particle that the human eye can see is about 25 microns in diameter.  Depending on the filtering capabilities of your vacuum cleaner, particles as small as .3 microns can be effectively filtered out of the air. But most vacuum cleaners allow much larger particles to get through.

This is a problem, especially in homes with sensitive individuals with allergies or asthma.The smallest  particles are able to be breathed into sinuses and deeply into lung tissue where they can cause irritation and inflammation.  Coughing, wheezing and sneezing are the result. In some cases, full blown asthma attacks can happen.  What is in the dust that creates such big problems? Pollutants include mold and mold spores, human and animal dander, dust mite feces, insect parts, air pollution, lead dust, carbon, cooking residues and more.
Vacuum Filters

Pollutants are captured and filtered out by high quality vacuum cleaners featuring “true HEPA”filtration. HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, are tested and certified to trap 99.97% of all particles at .3 microns, so a true HEPA vacuum cleaner actually cleans the air while it cleans the carpet. But be careful and do your homework. Just because a vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter does not mean it is “true HEPA”. Less efficient vacuum cleaners do not clean the air. Rather, they have the effect of expelling the smallest pollutant particles into the breathing zone where they can remain suspended for hours. Particles under .5 microns can be suspended indefinitely due to air currents within your home.

Vacuum Maintenance

To get the most out of your vacuum cleaner it is important that it be properly maintained. If it has a replaceable bag it should be exchanged when about half full. Never vacuum up moist soils or damp carpet. This can cause bacterial growth and odors in your machine. Check the belts and make sure that the brushes or rollers are in good condition.  It is best to take your machine in for an annual tune-up to keep it operating at peak performance. When you vacuum do not rush over the surface of the carpet. Take your time. Vacuum over high traffic areas in two different directions to remove the most soil. This will help your carpets stay cleaner and last much longer.

Keeping Your Home Clean

You can maintain your carpet with regular, professional cleaning, and Hansen Steam Way is happy to help with that. But a good quality vacuum cleaner is really your first line of defense in keeping a clean and healthy home.


Check Your Engine

Check Your Engine

Since 1994, cars and trucks have been required to have an on-board diagnostics system to ensure proper emission-control system operation. If your vehicle shows any signs of having an emission problem, your “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” light will glow. It is intended to inform the driver that a problem has been detected and vehicle service is needed.

It can be tempting to ignore this light. After all, your vehicle continues to drive in what seems like a normal fashion, and there seems to be no immediate need to take it in for service. A steady warning light indicates that something is amiss and the vehicle should be brought in for service as soon as is convenient. It is not an emergency situation, but should be addressed within a few days. However, a blinking warning light should be heeded immediately. A vehicle with this light flashing should be taken in for service at the earliest opportunity.

Possible causes of warning light activation include an overheating catalytic converter, an oxygen sensor malfunction, a fouled spark plug, a loose gas cap, or up to a hundred other causes. The glitches that activate this light are usually those which a driver would not detect. They can often lead to other problems if not addressed promptly, including fuel inefficiency, a shortened engine life, or expensive repairs.

Your best bet is to take a reasoned response. It is not a cause for panic, but should not be ignored either.

Social Media and the Elderly

Social Media and the Elderly
Social media is often criticized for its tendency to isolate people behind their computer screens, limiting their face-to-face, real world interactions. But for one group, Americans 65 and older, it can have a different effect.

A recent Michigan State University study showed that Internet use by those of retirement age actually reduces the chances of depression by more than 30 percent. This comes from an increased ability to communicate and stay connected with friends and family who may not live nearby. Those living alone showed the greatest reduction in depression rates.

But the researchers stressed that, as in all things, moderation is the key. The best way to stay connected with your social network is a combination of social media use and actually being with your loved ones. In this way, social media enhances your connections rather than replacing them.