How to prevent unwanted pests from your home without use of harmful chemicals
Household ants in the Kitchen
Do you have a pest infestation? When insect and rodents invade your home it's time to fight back. Living in the country I've had to deal with my fair share of pests. I used to go straight for store bought pesticides. While they worked great at getting the job done, I absolutely hated the smell of them and I wasn't too crazy about using harmful chemicals in areas where my kids and pets often played. According to DIY Home Sweet Home, these are great ways to safely eliminate unwanted pests
Repel: Clean with white vinegar. Not only does vinegar make a great all-purpose cleaner but ants can't stand the smell and it will mask their scent trails so they will lose their direction. Follow the ants to locate the food source (usually something sticky that has been spilled on the counter or floor). Removing the source and cleaning the area with a solution of one part vinegar and one part water a couple times a day will usually eliminate the ants.
Exterminate: If you still find ants try this simple bait recipe. Mix one part powdered sugar to one part baking soda*. Place this mixture in small shallow dishes (I found that Gatorade or juice lids work perfect for this) and leave around the home in places where you often find ants. *Please note large amounts of baking soda can be harmful to pets. For this recipe you should only be using a small amount but to be on the safe side I would place the mixture in areas where your pets can't get to it.
Repel: Place mint & bay leaves around the home. Cockroaches hate the smell and will stay away. I like to place the leaves in small mesh or muslin bags and place in dark areas such as closets and cabinets where cockroaches like to hang out. Exterminate: The same recipe we used above for ants will also kill cockroaches. Place equal parts of powdered sugar and baking soda into shallow containers and leave around the home where you notice cockroaches.
Repel: Grow marigolds, basil, & mint. Mosquitoes are repelled by the strong scent of these plants. Place live plants around your home or place dry mint leaves in muslin bags to keep in your home. Also cleaning with mint or citrus scented cleaner will do wonders at keeping mosquitoes away. Exterminate: Make a mosquito trap. Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 cup hot water. Cut the top off of a bottle. In the bottom half of the bottle add the cooled down brown sugar mixture and 1 gram of yeast. Place the top half of the bottle upside-down inside the bottle. Wrap a sheet of black construction paper around the bottle and tape it in place. Place the bottle in at area of your home where you find the most mosquitoes. Placing these bottles in your front and back yard a few feet away from your home will also attract the mosquitoes and trap them before they have a chance to enter the home. Mosquito’s larvae live in water. Removing any standing water around your home can greatly reduce the amount of mosquitoes in and around your home.
Repel: Mice hate peppermint. Place a few drops of peppermint essential oil and a drop of dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray this around your home especially any entry points or holes that mice use to come into the home. Exterminate: The best way I've found to kill mice is a simple mouse trap. I've tried other traps and even tried poison with little or no luck. Place a small amount of peanut butter or cheese on the traps before you set them and leave them in several areas around your home where mice have been seen making sure they are out of reach of children and pets. Be sure to check the traps often. You don't want a dead mouse stinking up your home. If you would like to catch mice without killing them try out this handmade 5 gallon bucket trap and leave out the water. SPIDERS
Repel: Peppermint repels spiders. The same recipe used above to repel mice also repels spiders. You can replace the water with white vinegar and it makes a great cleaner. Use this solution to wipe down counters, appliances and even the floors. Your home will be spider free in no time. Exterminate: Fill a spray bottle with one part white vinegar and one part water. Spray this directly on spiders. The acid in the vinegar will kill spiders on contact. FLIES
Repel: Lemons & cloves. Cut a lemon in half and stick several cloves in the pulp. Leave the lemon halves on your kitchen table or wherever flies gather. The scent of the lemon and cloves will drive the flies away. Exterminate: Cut a plastic bottle in half. In the bottom half pour in a small amount of wine and fruit scraps. (I usually use strawberries or some kind of melon.) Place the top half of the bottle upside down inside the bottom half. Place the trap in your kitchen and replace every couple days until flies are gone. Another option would be to use rotten meat in place of fruit and place the trap outside, away from the home. The rotten meat smell will attract the flies and keep them away from your house.
On top of following these methods of controlling insects you should also find a cleaning schedule that works for you and stick to it. Insects and rodents tend to like messy/dirty homes a lot more than they like clean home. It seems that every time I find pests in my home it's always after a busy week or after I haven't been feeling well. That's usually when I tend to slack on my cleaning schedule and it doesn't take long for the bugs to set up camp and move on in. Sticking to a cleaning schedule won't guarantee that you will not find bugs in your home but it does help a lot to minimize them. Another great way to keep bugs out of your home is to make sure they can't get in the first place. Go over your entire house and look for areas where insects may be entering the home. Replace any caulking around windows and doors, check weather stripping to make sure it's in good shape, and fix or replace broken window screens. After the pests are removed or exterminated and you need professional cleaning, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you.
Did you know that SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont also does Industrial and commercial work?
Wednesday night's storm causes flooding in Cambridge, MA
Storm caused flooding
Wednesday night’s storm caused street flooding, flooded basements and sewage to be backed up into basements. Local restoration companies like SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont were busy helping homeowners and businesses with storm related issues. Storm related events that cause flooding or sewage back up problems are not typically covered by insurance. Specialty policies or endorsements must be in place prior to a potential claim.
Precautions to prevent future flooding or damage
Certain preventive measures can be taken to prevent a City sewer from backing up into your basement during or after a heavy rain. Some are low cost, while others require corrective plumbing work.
- Make sure sewer trap plugs are fit tightly on the house trap. Replace old ill-fitting sewer trap plugs with fit-all plugs.
- If the house sewer line is solely for sanitary use (not for any rain water flow) a back-water check valve can be installed in front (the street side) of the house trap.
- If the house sewer in question is also for storm water (rain water) flow and there are plumbing fixtures in the basement (such as a toilet, shower, or a sink) backwater check valves can be installed for individual plumbing fixtures.
What is a backwater check valve?
A backwater check valve is a self-operating valve that only allows for water flow in one direction. If properly maintained it will prevent water from flowing in the opposite direction thereby preventing a sewer backup from a public sewer system.
A backwater check valve should be cleaned every 6 months to a year, a task easily performed by a non-professional by removing a few screws. No special tools or skills are required for maintenance on a backwater check valve.
This relatively low-cost installation can prevent heavy rain from causing damage to your house ever again. If your basement gets flooded or has sewage back up, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you.
Sick Building Syndrome
Mold growth inside a commercial building
Toxins from mold can aerosolize directly into the air, which may help explain one cause of sick building syndrome. Mold growing in buildings can make people sick, especially people who are allergic to various fungi. It’s also known that various molds and fungi produce mycotoxins — chemicals that can sicken and even kill people and animals. What’s not been entirely clear is how mold growing in and on walls or elsewhere in buildings might make people sick.
An Indoor environmental Professional (IEP) tested three common types of fungi that can grow inside buildings and found that their mycotoxins could and did disperse into the air until normal conditions. “These toxins can subsequently be aerosolized, at least partly, from moldy material,” was written in a report in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, published by the American Society for Microbiology.
“This transfer to air requires air velocities that can be encountered in ‘real life conditions’ in buildings. The three species they tested were Penicillium brevicompactum, Aspergillus versicolor and Stachybotrys chartarum, all of which grew on wallpaper in their lab. They all also produce mycotoxins.
It is estimated that, in Northern Europe and North America, 20 percent to 40 percent of buildings display macroscopically visible (visible to the eye) fungal growth. “For instance, Aspergillus versicolor, a potent producer of sterigmatocystin (STG), is one of the most frequent fungal contaminant of indoor environments that can be found together on building materials, in dust or in the air samples.”
Bottom of Form
The IEP’s team first grew the three fungi on ordinary wallpaper, and then tested to see if the toxins they produce could get into the air without some sort of interference, such as tearing down walls. "We demonstrated that mycotoxins could be transferred from a moldy material to air, under conditions that may be encountered in buildings," the IEP said in a statement. The pieces were as small as or smaller than spores and “could be easily inhaled by occupants and deeply penetrate into (the) respiratory tract,” the IEP wrote. “It seems important to take these data in consideration for risk assessment related to fungal contamination of indoor environment and the possible toxicity associated to inhalation of these toxins.”
If you suspect that you have mold in your building, call an IEP. After you have the results back from an IEP, call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you with the mold remediation.
Tips for getting your home ready to sell
Too much clutter and personal items could be a hindrance during a house sale
When you’re selling your home it’s important to make your home as appealing to buyers as possible. This means de-cluttering and organizing specific areas of your home to draw them to the buyer’s attention. Today I’m sharing four important tips that are sure to help you get top dollar for your home.
I recommend starting to pack as early as possible. This will help clear out excess clutter and the things buyers don’t need to see. You don’t always using everything in your house, and there are definitely things you can live without for a period of time, to make your home more appealing to buyers.
Less is more. The less buyers see of your stuff, the more appealing your home will be, and your house will sell quicker.
Remember when you are packing to throw away, or donate, things that you haven’t used in awhile. There is no point in moving something you never use! If you find something and didn’t remember that you owned it you should probably just get rid of it. Moving is the perfect time to de-clutter your home!
Feature your best assets
When buyers walk through your home, the things they are most interested in are the kitchen and bathrooms. Spend a little bit of time and money to make these spaces in your home, the cleanest they could possibly be.
De-clutter the kitchen and bathrooms, so there’s nothing on the counters, except for maybe some fresh flowers. And don’t forget the cupboards and drawers! Buyers want to look to see how much space the cupboards have so de-clutter these areas and make sure they are nicely organized.
I highly recommend spending a little bit of money on each of these spaces and have the entire house be professionally cleaned, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378.
Update mirrors in the bathroom, paint the kitchen and bathrooms with a fresh coat of neutral paint, update the light fixtures, the cupboard knobs & pulls, etc. Anything you update in the space will draw the buyer’s attention and you’re guaranteed to make your money back when you sell your home
Since we’re talking about updating, another thing that is sure to draw buyer’s attention is a neutral color scheme. You might like your bright blue bedroom and the accent wall in your living room, but the buyers won’t. Spend a little bit of time and money to paint over your bright and/or dark colors, with a neutral gray so the buyers can walk into your home and visualize their things in the space, and not be distracted by your color schemes.
Storage space is king
Buyers want to know your house has all the space it needs to store their stuff. De-clutter and spend some time organizing all your closets so buyers know your home has what they need! If a buyer looks in a closet and see stuff crammed in there, they will automatically assume there isn’t enough storage in the house, which is a huge downfall for you! Your closets are definitely one of the places it’s worth spending a little bit of time money to make them look as good as possible.
Once all the most important places of your home are cleaned up by a professional cleaner, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 for your cleaning, de-cluttered, and freshened up, your home is ready to list! If you follow these tried and true tips your home is sure to sell and you’ll be on your way to your new home. Congratulations and good luck!
Case Study: Mold growing on basement walls
Mold growth that could have been prevented
The Millers were away for a week and when they came home they noticed a smell coming from the basement. A pipe had developed a leak and was dripping water onto the carpet in their finished basement. The Millers called SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont to assist them with the water damage. The crew arrived and checked the basement walls and floor for excessive moisture content. The SERVPRO crew determined that the water had wicked up the walls causing the positive readings. SERVPRO of Cambridge’s technician recommended to cut the walls and remove the insulation behind the walls so that the basement could be dried properly. The customer did not follow thew technicians advice and wanted only to have the pad removed and the carpet dried. A few weeks later, the Millers discovered black spots growing on the walls. They called SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont again to assess the situation. SERVPRO determined that mold had started growing and recommended that the walls be cur 6”inches past the mold growth, remove the insulation, heap-vacuum and spray an anti-microbial behind those walls. If you have water damage call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you and please follow the recommendations of the crew
Common plumbing problems & how to fix them
Wanted, experienced plumber
You depend on your plumbing each and every day, from the hot water in your shower to the water boiling on your stove. As such, it’s important to maintain your plumbing regularly to make sure there aren’t any major issues such as leaks or sewage backups. But plumbing problems can still occur with regular maintenance, so it’s good to be aware of common plumbing issues and what you can do to solve them or minimize damage to your home.
Low Water Pressure
Proper water pressure is necessary for washing your hands, cleaning dishes, and taking a shower. If you’ve noticed a significant drop in your home’s water pressure, you probably have a clogged pipe. It’s also possible that you need to fully open your shutoff valve. If you’re only having water pressure issues with one faucet, the solution may be as simple as cleaning the aerator or removing a nearby clog.
Depending on the severity of the drip, a dripping faucet can raise your water bill and waste a significant amount of water—not to mention how annoying it can be. Luckily, fixing a dripping faucet is usually as simple as replacing seats and springs or a washer in the faucet.
It happens so frequently: minutes after flushing your toilet, you can still hear the toilet running as if the bowl is filling with water. This is an incredibly annoying problem to have, but usually, an easy one to fix. Remove the lid from your toilet tank and make sure that your tank ball, flapper valve, and flush valve are working properly—if any of them are sticking or not functioning right, they’re easy to replace.
Clogged or slow drains are probably the most common plumbing problem. Plumbing pipes are designed to allow water and waste to flow through freely, but over time, built up hair, soap scum and other debris can form a clog in your drain that prevents water from passing. This is almost sure to happen in any home given enough time. You can use vinegar and baking soda to break up clogs in your sink, or you can buy a drain auger and remove the clog manually.
Sometimes the clog may be deeper in your pipes or too severe to easily remove, look into professional plumbing services; they have the equipment and expertise to clear clogged drains without causing damage to your plumbing. If you have sewage damage as a result of a clogged drain or other plumbing issues, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378
Leaks aren’t just an annoyance; they can significantly increase your water bill and quickly cause damage to your home. If you have a leaking pipe that’s beyond a slow drip, shut your water off as soon as possible. If there is any chance of mold or structural damage to your home, call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to avoid spending a fortune on repairs. Leaking pipes generally need to be replaced, but you can use marine tape or epoxy to cover small leaks temporarily—just remember to shut the water off first.
No Hot Water
Have you ever rolled out of bed and into the shower only to find there’s no hot water? It’s not a good experience. Chances are you’ve got something wrong with your water heater, most probably an electrical problem such as a thermostat or element. If you’re not comfortable troubleshooting your water heater, it’s a good idea to get help from a trained, knowledgeable professional.
Plumbing truly is an essential part of our everyday lives. We can’t all be professional plumbers, but with a little bit of research and hard work, you can stay cool, calm and collected in the face of a plumbing emergency
If you have water damage as a result of any of these or other plumbing issues, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378
Fast moving storm causes damage in Cambridge
Cleaning up the offices
The rain came quickly and only lasted a few minutes but it created significant damage to the Cambridge/Somerville area. Paula, the office manager, arrived in her office Wednesday morning and, her feet squished from the wet carpet. The rain was so overwhelming that the roof drain overflowed causing water to pour down into the office. She made a call to SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont and explained that she needed her office to be operational as it was their busy season. The SERVPRO technicians arrived within the hour. Melvin, the crew chief, tested walls and ceilings for excessive moisture, extracted the water from the carpets and left equipment to dry the wet walls ceiling and carpet. A few days later Melvin came back, tested the areas with a moisture and he found all areas to be dry. The crew shampooed the carpet and everything was back to normal in the office. If you have water or fire damage in your business, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378
Microburst downs trees in Cambridge, MA
Tree pierces kitchen ceiling
Yesterday’s microburst that occurred in the city of Cambridge resulted in about 50 limbs or branches down. Forestry crews are responding. There are also several wires down and loss of power in certain locations. The City Electrician, Eversource and SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont are responding. The above picture shows the damage that one of the downed trees caused. SERVPRO Of Cambridge/Belmont responded to a frantic call from the homeowner informing us that a tree came right through the kitchen ceiling. The SERVPRO technicians were at the Cambridge home in less than an hour. They cleaned up the debris and installed drying equipment.
To report a fallen tree or limb, call 617-349-3300.
To report a down wired, call 911 or 617-349-3300
To report loss of power, please call Eversourse at 1-800-592-2000
If you have had roof or water damage due to the Microburst please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378
A microburst is a small downdraft that moves in a way opposite to a tornado. Microbursts are found in strong thunderstorms. There are two types of microbursts within a thunderstorm: wet microbursts and dry microbursts. They go through three stages in their cycle, the downburst, outburst, and cushion stages. A microburst often has high winds that can knock over fully grown trees. They usually last from a couple of seconds to several minutes.
Case Study - Mold growth caused by a hidden leaky pipe
Mold growth on Living Room Wall
A homeowner in Cambridge, MA moved a cabinet in their living room and saw black spots behind the cabinet and also growing on the cabinet. The homeowner called SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont to assess the situation. The SERVPRO technicians using a moisture meter discovered the wall and ceiling were both wet. The technicians went upstairs to the room above the living room to determine the source of the water. The room above was a bathroom, the technicians using the moisture meter, discovered the bathroom vanity was wet. SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont’s technicians removed the wall and found an old leaky pipe that had probably been dripping for a long period of time causing the mold growth in the living room.
Mildew and molds are fungi - simple microscopic organisms that thrive anywhere there is a moist environment. Molds are a necessary part of the environment; without them, leaves would not decay and aspects of soil enrichment could not take place. It is their ability to destroy organic materials, however, that makes mold a problem for people - in our homes and in our bodies.
If you think you have a mold issue, call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-74378 to assist you
Professional Cleaners make a difference!
A house or an office is a place where a person spends most of his time in a day and these two places can leave a very big impression on other people who visit. The look of a house allows people to judge the taste and character of a house owner and by the look of an office, clients and customers will judge the owner and the whole staff whether they are efficient and or not. A dirty office or professional place can leave the impression that the owner and staff of the place are lazy and do not give importance to their work and clients. When it comes to deep cleaning it is just not about the cleaning of floors or your desk, it also includes the cleaning of windows, furniture, carpets and every small area of the place. In those conditions a person needs professional cleaner to help him with the cleaning. Please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you with your professional cleaning needs.