Monday, April 29, 2013



Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.

If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.
On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. EPA has published Indoor Air Quality: An Introduction for Health Professionals and The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Seasonal Allergies: Nip Them in the Bud

Spring means flower buds and blooming trees — and if you're one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, it also means sneezing, congestion, runny nose and other bothersome symptoms. Seasonal allergies — also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis — can make you miserable. But before you settle for plastic flowers and artificial turf, try these simple strategies to keep seasonal allergies under control. 

Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers

To reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms (allergens):
  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days — the best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Delegate lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes you've worn outside; you may also want to shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Don't hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • Wear a dust mask if you do outside chores. 
Take extra steps when pollen counts are high
Seasonal allergy signs and symptoms can flare up when there's a lot of pollen in the air. These steps can help you reduce your exposure:
  • Check your local TV or radio station, your local newspaper, or the Internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels.
  • If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
  • Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest. 
Keep indoor air clean
There's no miracle product that can eliminate all allergens from the air in your home, but these suggestions may help:
  • Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
  • If you have forced air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules.
  • Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
  • Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
  • Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. 
Try an over-the-counter remedy
Several types of nonprescription medications can help ease allergy symptoms. They include:
  • Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, runny nose and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy, others) and fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy). Older antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), are also effective, but they can make you drowsy.
  • Decongestants. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others) can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Decongestants also come in nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). Only use nasal decongestants for short-term relief. Long-term use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms (rebound congestion).
  • Nasal spray. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray can ease allergy symptoms and doesn't have serious side effects, though it's most effective when you begin using it before your symptoms start.
  • Combination medications. A number of allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include the oral medication Drixoral, which combines the antihistamine dexbrompheniramine maleate with the decongestant pseudoephedrine sulfate, and the nasal spray Claritin-D, which combines the antihistamine loratadine with pseudoephedrine sulfate. 
Rinse your sinuses
Rinsing your nasal passages with distilled, sterile saline solution (nasal irrigation) is a quick, inexpensive and very effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose. Look for a squeeze bottle or a neti pot — a small container with a spout designed for nasal rinsing — at your pharmacy or health food store. Use water that's distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller to make up the saline irrigation solution. Also be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air-dry. 

Interested in alternative treatments? Consider these

A number of natural remedies have been used to treat hay fever symptoms. Treatments that may help include extracts of the shrub butterbur and spirulina (a type of dried algae). A number of other natural remedies are used to treat allergies, but the benefits aren't clear and some may not be safe — so talk to your doctor before trying one. 

When home remedies aren't enough, see your doctor

For many people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if your seasonal allergies are still bothersome, don't give up. A number of other treatments are available.

If you have bad seasonal allergies, your doctor may recommend that you have skin tests or blood tests to find out exactly what allergens trigger your symptoms. Testing can help determine what steps you need to take to avoid your specific triggers and identify which treatments are likely to work best for you.

For some people, allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) can be a good option. Also known as desensitization, this treatment involves regular injections containing tiny amounts of the substances that cause your allergies. Over time, these injections reduce the immune system reaction that causes symptoms.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Energy Star Portfolio Manager Helps K-12 Facility Managers Avoid Millions in Energy Costs

The cost to heat, cool, and operate the approximately 98,800 public elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. comes to about $7.6 billion annually, says Lauren Pitcher, a communications director with Energy Star. That's more than the tab for textbooks and computers combined. Indeed, energy costs are typically a school's largest operating expense after salaries, Energy Star reports. The size of the nation's schools' utility bills, combined with ongoing budget constraints, are prompting many k-12 school district leaders to carefully consider ways to save energy. One way they're doing so is by using Energy Star Portfolio Manager

Fortunately, many school districts can cut energy use and costs. Operating costs at the most energy-efficient schools run about 40 cents per square foot less than the costs at average schools, while the least efficient schools use three times more energy than the most efficient, Energy Star reports.

Moreover, reducing energy use doesn't have to mean compromising the education students receive. "We don't teach in the dark," says Eric Hamilton, director of buildings and grounds with the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose (BHM) Schools in Buffalo, Minn. "We just have a dark room when we leave." BHM, an Energy Star Leader, has avoided about $13 million in energy costs over the past decade, Hamilton says.

It appears that many school districts have taken note of the value of Energy Star. Of the approximately 5,900 Energy Star Partners, about 1,179 (just under 20 percent) are school districts. Partner organizations have committed to measure, track, and benchmark energy performance. They also commit to develop and implement plans to improve energy performance using the Energy Star strategy, and to educate their employees and communities about their organizations' partnerships and achievements with Energy Star.

Moreover, school districts make up 85 percent of all Energy Star Leaders. These organizations have achieved portfolio-wide energy efficiency improvements of at least 10 percent, when measured against their baselines, or have earned an average rating of 75 or better, again, across their portfolio.

The results can be impressive. For instance, the Nash-Rocky Mount school district in North Carolina, which consists of 32 facilities comprising 2.6 million square feet, has avoided $8.1 million in energy costs over the past eight years, says Charles Lamm, energy management coordinator. "We've had up to a 30 percent reduction in (annual) energy use." Even though energy prices jumped about 53 percent between 2003 and 2012, the energy budget increased just $120,000, Lamm says.

The district's work with the Energy Star program, as well as with an outside firm that has helped it track and reduce energy use, were keys to its success, says Mark Strickland, executive director of operations. "We were doing a good job, but realized that we needed outside help and talent," given the rate at which energy costs themselves were increasing.

The St. Tammany Parish Public School District in Covington, La., had similar reasons for partnering with Energy Star, says William Brady, assistant superintendent of administration. "The district could be provided with many valuable resources and ideas in order to help us meet our energy goals and ensure that students are learning to be good stewards of the environment." In the seven years ending in late 2012, the district avoided more than $11 million in energy costs, Brady says. St. Tammany includes 55 schools and 16 support sites.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Water Damage Dangers

Water damage happens often in homes of all ages and kinds. An aging structure, problematic plumbing, or problems from nature can cause this. Since you may not notice water damage right away, it is something that you need to check for regularly. If you let it get out of control, you may end up with a severely compromised structure, as well as other issues building up that are dangerous to your health and entire wellbeing. Mold and weaknesses in the support structure of the house are just a couple of ways that this can become a serious issue for you. This leaves you in an unsafe environment and with expensive, necessary repairs ahead of you.

To grow, mold and bacteria would need dark, damp places. When there is water damage behind your walls, under your carpet, and in other hidden areas around the home, you are going to see a growth in mold, bacteria, and other dangers. These can develop into major health risks, like in the case of black mold, that require larger scale fixes and might end up affecting your health or that of those close to you. This also attracts annoyances, like gnats, that like the damp and dark spaces. They end up growing in numbers and spreading across your home, making it an uncomfortable place to stay.

Structural problems are also common with water damage. When the wood that holds your home together is weaker due to flooding or leaking, it is more likely to rot and break. It will not be capable of supporting your home as well, which results in sinking ceilings, weak floors, and a failing structure. If the source of the problem is constant and continuous, the problem is worsened even further. It becomes much more than a soft spot; it becomes a major security risk. This can result in a structural collapse and crumbling areas of the home, which can cause serious injury.

Avoiding this issue is possible. When you buy a home or have one built, make sure that the structure is in good condition. You need to have all areas checked, from top to bottom, by a capable inspector. Once this is done, remember to take care of problems as soon as they arise. Faulty plumbing or a leaking roof will bring problems into your structure, leading to serious complications. Call a professional quickly to have these problems fixed before everything builds up.

Sometimes, you are simply too late in the prevention stage. When this happens, you need to contact someone right away. Water damage will not become better with time, which is why you need to make sure that it is cleaned up right away. Before it worsens and before it has a chance to cause any degree of issues, whether it is flooding or rotting wood, you need to take action. A professional will be able to drain the area and help you to prevent anything from happening or persisting.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Understanding the Effects of Thorough Air Duct Cleaning

Many people shudder when thinking of going into a hospital for fear of the germs, and refuse to own pets because the say that they are dirty. What may startle you, however, is that your home is likely harboring more germs than either a hospital room or a pet cage. Most air duct systems within residential homes are never put through a proper deep cleaning and therefore continuously build up contaminants that recirculate into the air of the home. Simply through thorough duct cleaning residents can create healthier, cleaner air for the easy breathing of their families.

It is important for any homeowner to understand the role of air ducts within his home. This will help you to understand how these ducts impacts your daily life and how cleaning will help them to work more effectively and beneficially. Your ducts are the system through which the air of your home is circulated throughout the rooms. The ducts draw the air through either the furnace or the air conditioning system and moves it throughout your rooms to address your home's climate needs. As the air circulates, however, any form of contaminant that is present in that air is introduced into the air ducts where it will continuously pollute the air that your family is breathing.

What may truly shock you is the types of contaminants that are commonly present is residential homes. The duct systems of most homes contain contaminants such as dead skin cells, pieces of insects, dirt, fungi, mold, dust mites, animal droppings, bacteria and viruses. Other environmental contaminants such as paint dust and carpet fibers can also be present. When these contaminants are breathed in by your family they can make a serious negative impact on their health. This is particularly true if any of your family members suffers from asthma, allergies or another form of respiratory problem.

Through a thorough air duct cleaning homes can enjoy the benefits of fresher, cleaner air. An effective cleaning of this type will remove the buildup of these contaminants from the entire air duct system, not just the visible span of the ducts themselves. It is important that all parts of the system including the cage, filter and blower are also thoroughly cleaned and that the entire system is treated with a sanitizing solution to hamper the growth of common allergens, viruses, bacteria and mold. This cleans the system for the moment, but also keeps the system, and therefore the air in your home, cleaner and more healthful. Air duct cleaning professionals recommend maintenance services once or twice per year to support the highest functioning of your system.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Great Organization Helping Youth. Check Out Their Ribbon Cutting Celebration Event, Sat Apr 20th


to the Yippie Yogurt® Job Training Center's
Ribbon Cutting Celebration
on Saturday, April 20, 2013 @ 1:00pm

There will be FREE small Yummy Yippie Yogurt
for the first 50 customers
Books and Stuffed Animals for the kids;
Face Painting, Cupcake walk, Balloons and More!
Yippie Yogurt® is a true community resource helping our most
disadvantaged youth gain employment skills and work experience.
"We hope you will come!"
Yippie Yogurt® is located at 1955 West Texas Street, #4 in Fairfield (Park in FoodMaxx parking lot).  Yippie Yogurt® is a program of the Yippie Foundation and is a true community resource helping our most disadvantaged youth gain employment skills and work experience.  Hope you will come!  Sponsored in part by Travis Credit Union and Dannon’s YoCream Yogurt.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mission Solano's 3rd Annual Earth Day Solano Event Joins With Community To Create Garbage Art

Public welcomed to participate in Saturday, April 20th
experience with Solano County leaders

Suisun City, CA - Mission SOLANO, local artists from the Fairfield Visual Arts Association and the Lawler House Gallery, along with Earth Day Solano volunteers, will create six pieces of unique “garbage art”, created from the trash collected throughout Suisun City on Earth Day Solano, Saturday, April 20th from 10 am – 2 pm.

Three years ago the Earth Day Solano vision, inspired by the gorgeous downtown waterfront in Suisun City, blossomed:

You allowed us to clean up your discarded, thrown away,
trampled-on refuse; we recycled it and now present you with
a piece of art, more beautiful than you thought you could imagine.

This year’s Earth Day Solano art project – six pieces of original art created on the spot on Earth Day April 20th using trash collected from Suisun City targeted cleanup zones – glows as a tangible expression of the Mission SOLANO vision for recycling people. Inspired by the documentary “Waste Land” by artist Vik Muniz, artists came together under the leadership of artist, Aria Zuloaga to plan the art project. “

After watching the movie Waste Land, a group of us from Lawler House Gallery and the Fairfield Visual Arts Association collaborated to create the concept and images for six temporary live art installations on April 20th,” Zuloaga reflects. “We believed in this project from the beginning and after weeks of preparation we’re anxious to see the images and the art unfold. It is a labor of love for our community and for our planet.”

Art became a central part of Earth Day Solano in 2012, when Gilbert Rangel, local esteemed recycled materials artist, created a piece of recycled metals art now on permanent display in the city chambers of Suisun City (see below).


For additional details on the Earth Day Solano April 20th event, including trash cleanup, Kayaks 4 Kare sprint races, tree planting, Earth Day oratorical competition, 30 participating vendor booths and more, visit

To learn more about Mission SOLANO programs, please visit or call 707-425-FOOD (3663). Lawler House Gallery information can be found at

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mold Remediation - A Big Word For a Big Problem

Have you been noticing an odd smell in your home environment on a regular basis? Is it constantly on the damp side in certain areas of your business? Does someone in your family only sneeze and cough when they are inside your home? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a serious problem. The key to effectively eliminating it is through mold remediation.

There are two food sources that these sometimes-deadly spores love most - oxygen and moisture. They gorge themselves on both until they have taken over your home environment. They can grow on almost anything such as carpet, food, wood, and even paper products.

You may be wondering just what causes the moisture. Well, out-of-control humidity, construction code changes over the years, and even building materials, which have changed, and unnoticed leaks are some of the culprits that allow this uninvited guest to take up residence. But, don't panic!

A reputable mold remediation company will have special testing and removal procedures, which will effectively solve your problem. Highly skilled technicians have been trained to contain the unwanted spores and follow-up with a proven and effective sanitizing process. Applying a substance, which will essentially hinder future growth, will complete the procedure.

Let's look at some ways spore growth can be prevented.

1. Have a plumber thoroughly check your house inside and out and repair any leaky areas ASAP.

2. Keep an eye out for condensation on any surface and control the humidity level with a de-humidifier. Insulate areas that are prone to high moisture content.

3. Add vents or regularly clean existing ones in your home's crawl space.

4. Check your HVAC unit drip pan and clean it, if necessary.

5. Your dryer can produce moisture and should be vented to the outside of your home.

6. At least twice a year, have a trained HVAC technician inspect and maintain your unit.

7. If you notice any moisture or wet spots anywhere, clean them up immediately.

8. Check the foundation of your home and, if possible, provide run off areas so moisture doesn't find a place to live.

Some spores are very sneaky and enjoy hiding out, and it is extremely dangerous when they are discovered. For example, wallpaper removal can open up a huge release of spores and must be handled in a professional manner by using a mold remediation specialist.

A few other favorite hiding spots are the reverse side of carpets, ceiling tiles, and panels. The bad thing is that most of the time when you smell the foul odor, but you can't see the cause, that's when spores are playing hide and seek.

Unfortunately, they are often discovered after many unsuccessful trips to the doctor to find out why you have uncontrollable allergies.

Unchecked mold growth can have many negative side effects both to your health and to the contamination your home or business will endure. It's definitely not something you want to ignore.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Water Damage Cleanup Services After Home Flooding

Natural disasters such as hurricanes cause a lot of water damage to people's homes. Surprisingly however, it's the small things like leaking hoses and broken pipes that have been rendered many homeless due to unexpected flooding. The loss of property can be overwhelming; however, there is hope. Professional water damage cleanup service providers are experts and transforming a flood damaged home back to original condition (if not better).

During such disasters, water can get into all parts of your home; from the ceiling to the basement. If you have a hardwood floor, it will absorb water, and the wood will begin to warp and bend. You need a professional service that is equipped with the technology to dry the water from the floor, and save you a small fortune. The walls of your home will also absorb water, and this may cause structural weakness, posing a danger to you and your family. The attic or ceiling of your home can also store moisture which may cause it to collapse. Given these dangers, only experts can help you remedy the situation effectively. Most water damage cleanup services are available to you 24/7, so you can call whenever you require them, and they will send their team to your rescue.

Apart from the water seepage in the floor and walls, your furniture, and other items will suffer damage after a storm. Not everything may be salvageable, but there are steps that can be taken to restore furniture and other precious items. Water can be removed from carpets and upholstery, as well as dry wooden cabinets, and other household goods. Even if the water damage seems extensive, you could be pleasantly surprised to find your home retaining much of the semblance that it had before the flooding. If any of the items are completely damaged, the cleanup service will remove the debris and ensure that your home is completely clean. They will then sanitize the home, and ensure that there is no danger of mold growing. Mold can pose a serious risk to your family, and they ensure that the home is completely dehumidified, and sanitized.

Electrical systems are bound to suffer damage during such a storm. The professional cleanup service will ensure that the wiring is safe to use before they restore electricity in your home. They will inspect the outlets, and much of the wiring, especially in area where there was a lot of water absorption. Before they let you back into the house, they will ensure that everything is in its proper place, and your home is safe for habitation, once again.

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mold Remediation Services Can Get to the Root of the Problem

There are some people who believe that mold remediation services aren't really necessary for those who have small issues with this particular fungus. Contrary to this belief, however, there are several reasons why it's important for people to receive mold remediation services, no matter how small their problem may seem. That's because these professionals can not only come and remove the visible issue, but they can also locate the root cause of the problem.

Just think about it. Someone try to fix the problem on their own. They could do as much research as they can and get all of the materials they believe they need. This may help them to get rid of the visible issue.

For weeks and maybe even months, it could seem as if everything is fine. Then, one day they notice a stain on the ceiling. Later, they find other small spots in several other places around the home.

At this point, the issue is spreading. Because it's not that noticeable and the spots are somewhat small, the homeowners don't see it as being a significant problem. So, they don't pay it much attention, and they don't believe spending money for mold remediation is really necessary. As time goes on, they start to notice even more spots. At this point, they finally decide to get professional help.

Because the issue has spread to so many different areas of the home, it ends up costing the homeowners much more than they thought they would have to pay. This isn't just due to the fact that they waited so long to get help. It's also a result of their decision to take the matter into their own hands.

They did it without having the proper skill level, expertise, or knowledge to get to the root cause. In their minds, if they could just get rid of the surface issue, everything would be okay. However, that wasn't the case. They not only ended up wasting their time in the beginning, but they also had to spend a lot more money than they would've had to if they had asked for assistance upon for noticing that mold was growing.

So, it may seem like a good idea for homeowners to take care of this issue on their own, but this isn't really the case. Even if someone thinks their problem is rather small, the help of a professional is still needed in order to get to the root cause.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Benefits of Fire Restoration Services

Fire restoration services should be provided immediately after destruction has occurred. Powerful flames can destroy every part of a building including the items inside. However, some things may still be salvageable. And sometimes all it takes is proper cleaning methods to restore a home or business. This is not always the case, but many times sufferers can save time and money by trusting the right professionals to fix damages. With the right steps, many can prevent more damage that would aid the repair process tremendously. The way to do this is to trust a certified company to get the job done.

Thousands of house and business infernos occur each year in the United States. People are always advised to construct escape plans and to practice drills on a regular basis. It is heavily recommended that people purchase effective smoke detectors and alarms as well. All this helps people to properly flee from dangerous situations. Unfortunately, unruly infernos still happen. Flames can be destructive, but there are also other damages that need repair after these disasters. Elements like smoke and water can also damage furniture, carpets, rugs, clothing, electronics, and many other household items. This is quite an inconvenience. However, many times the items are repairable.

Smoke is very strong. Inhalation of smoke can be quite dangerous and life threatening. Fortunately, many people are rescued from these situations. However, the extinguishing process can leave a huge mess behind. Those humungous hoses are not only necessary lifesavers, but the water that comes out can flood a building in the process. This causes damages to the carpet, furniture, and other things. Fire restoration services can clean and dry these parts of the building in an effective way. There are actually machines that are built to properly dry and restore this material.

Many people who experience flame disasters have no idea which steps to take. Fire restoration professionals can actually come out and fully assess the situation. These workers can examine each part of the damage and discover which parts are repairable. This can save the sufferers from disposing of things that are still good. The result is saving extra money and time. Perhaps a valuable painting has been smeared with soot and contains a distinct smell. There is no need to fear because this can be washed away. Maybe numerous clothing items have been covered with smoke and soot as well. There is a certain type of dry cleaning that will make them as good as new. Let's not forget about those thick odors. There are treatments and injections that can eliminate mold and other impurities making a building fresh and smoke free.

Fire restoration services are available at all times. These disasters happen all the time so professionals are always ready to work. Unrepaired damages can become a hazard to the entire neighborhood. It's best to have it cleaned up as soon as possible. Only the highest quality tools should be used in this process.

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