Dirtiest Places in Your Home Besides Your Bathroom

Your home is a haven, a place you get to escape work, unwind, relax and are free to be yourself. Unfortunately, your home is also a place where germs and bacteria fester, turning into mold and causing numerous illnesses to every member of your family. It’s easy to remember to keep your bathroom and kitchen counters clean, but there are five other major areas in your home that rarely get cleaned and are responsible for that cold or virus that gets passed around to everyone that steps through the front door.

Kitchen
Besides the kitchen counter, your sponges, dish rags, kitchen sink, cutting boards and refrigerator collect endless germs and bacteria. According to the National Sanitation Foundation, more than 75% of dish rags and sponges were tested positive for Salmonella, E. coli and fecal matter.

To prevent these nasty germs and bacteria from lingering and spreading to your loved ones, frequently use disinfectant wipes on all surfaces and in the sink after prepping raw foods. Use hot water and bleach to clean sponges and change your dish rags out at least once a week.

Door handles and light switches
The amount of people that touch the front door knob, or turn on the kitchen lights is astounding. If you don’t wash your hands before opening a door or turning on the lights in your home, then everything else you’ve touched is now on that handle or light switch. Cleaning all the door handles and switches in your home will prevent bacteria from growing and the spreading of germs throughout your home.

Electronics
Every member of your family touches all the laptops, tablets and remote controls in your home, multiple times a day. These surfaces carry bacteria that have the potential to cause mold and even staph. All of these shared items should be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe at least twice a week. if you take your remote into the kitchen or use your phone in the bathroom, you might want to consider disinfecting it immediately after or daily if this is a regular habit.

Pets
Your cat or dog brings in a great deal of dirt, mud and germs from outside. Although you can’t make your pet where shoes, or rather shouldn’t, you can wipe their feet before coming inside.

Clean their water dish daily. If you think about it, you don’t drink from the same glass day after day without it being washed, so why should your animal? When your cat or dog drinks from the water dish, it has a tendency to splash water all over the floor – easily spreading germs everywhere. Regularly cleaning your dog’s water dish will greatly decrease the amount of germs that are spread.

How to Remove Water from Your Basement

Rain is defined as moisture condensed from the atmosphere that falls visibly in separate drops. A single drop of rain on its own in theory is seemingly harmless but when over 1.5 trillion drops of rain fall from the sky during an average rainstorm, they are anything but harmless.

The dangers of flash flooding can not only be a risk to your safety if you’re out on the road driving, but has the potential to cause some serious water damage to your home. If the rain is falling too fast, sometimes your sump pump just cannot keep up and your basement ends up taking on water. Storms can also cause a serious clog to your storm drain which allows for the water from the storm to backup into your home, causing a flood.

What should you do when you discover that there is a swimming pool in your basement? Unfortunately, you have to wait until the rain has finished to deal with the messy, damaging aftermath.

Cut the power – First things first, turn off all of the power on the floor that has taken on water. This should be done before you even set foot into the water, the last thing you want on top of all of the water in your home is to be electrocuted. Once you’ve turned off the water, put on closed toed shoes to protect your feet.

Locate the source – In order to quickly and efficiently remove the water from your home, you need to find out, how the water got into your home in the first place. Check the basement floor drain to see if it was clogged during the flood. If this is the case, unclogging it will provide an easy place for the water to escape.

If there is no basement drain, use a sump pump, pool pump or wet/dry shop vacuum to remove the water. The amount of water present will determine what you use to get rid of the water. If the water is over six inches deep, consider calling a water removal company that will quickly remove the water.

Sort through the damage – Anything that was submerged in water that you want to keep will need at least 48 hours to completely dry out. If possible, place the water logged items outside or in a well ventilated location to dry. Inspect these items after 48 hours, you don’t want mold or bacteria to grow or develop. If the item appears to be too damaged, toss it in the garbage.
If the room that took on water has carpeting, tear it up. In most cases, the water will have permentaly damaged the carpet and it should be torn up and be replaced.

Drying time – Before you begin cleaning, give the basement or room a few days to completely dry out. Open as many doors and windows to let in fresh air and to help air dry the area. Using fans and a dehumidifier will help expedite the process, just be sure to regularly empty the dehumidifier.

Cleaning – Wash the walls and floors to remove mud, dirt and other debris left behind from the water. Any damaged insulation and drywall could spread mold and will need to be thrown away. Once everything is completely dry, use an anti-mildew spray.

Once you’ve done the best to clean, call your insurance company to see if you have flood coverage. If you don’t, you may want to take this opportunity and add it to your policy.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning in Your Home

It often comes without warning. You can’t see it, feel it or even smell it. It’s more fearsome than any monster under the bed or boogie man in the closet. Every year according to Forbes Magazine, 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States experience symptoms caused by Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning and 500 people die due to CO poisoning in the safety of their own homes.

The reason why Carbon Monoxide is so dangerous and deadly is because it is odorless, colorless and the nasty symptoms are similar if not the same as the common flu. One could easily think they are simply sick while not realizing their life is in serious risk. Depending on the high concentrations of Carbon Monoxide, it can result in death anywhere between 8 hours to less than five minutes.

Yes, Carbon Monoxide poisoning is dangerous and should be feared, but it can also be prevented and even completely avoided.

Here’s exactly how you can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from threatening your well-being.

Furnace tune-up – Your furnace should be serviced by a licensed and certified HVAC technician at least once a year, preferably before turning on the unit for the season. An HVAC technician will ensure your unit is working properly, this includes checking for the possibility of a Carbon Monoxide leak.

Battery operated CO detector – A Carbon Monoxide detector is just as important as your smoke detector. Be sure to invest in one and change the batteries every spring and fall.

Gas stove safety – Never use your gas oven or stove to heat your home. This is extremely dangerous and increases your chances of Carbon Monoxide poisoning greatly.

Know the symptoms – If you are exposed to Carbon Monoxide you can experience any or all the following symptoms: blurred vision, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting. Should you experience any of these symptoms, exit the house immediately and call 911 and they will contact the local fire department.

Call Gillece to have your furnace checked before the cold-season hits to ensure that it’s functioning safely and properly.

Cleaning Rim Jets 101

If you have a toilet that is more than 10 years old you might notice that your toilet isn’t working as well as it used to. Over time, toilets can become slow when it comes to flushing and have problems completely removing waste from the toilet with just one flush. In most cases, the result of this can be due to a clog, root infested pipes or an issue with the flapper. However, a commonly overlooked cause of a slow flushing toilet is clogged rim jets.

The rim jets are located around the entire inside rim of the toilet. When you flush the toilet, clean water from inside the tank flows from the overflow pipe inside the tank and out the rim jets. The rim jets not only help with flushing the toilet but with cleaning the inside of the toilet with fresh water.

Over time, these rim jets can become clogged by minerals in the water or other debris. This happens more frequently for those who use well water as there tends to be more minerals in the water which cause sediment buildup that is also common in shower heads.

To inspect the rim jets, you can simply use a small mirror to view the inside of the toilet. Should you see any limescale or discoloration of any kind, your rim jets are clogged and need to be cleaned for proper function. There’s no need for rubber gloves, scrubbing and harsh chemicals, you can naturally clean the rim jets with white vinegar.

Bring about one cup of white vinegar to a boil on the stove and allow it to stop boiling. Using a funnel, carefully pour the hot white vinegar down the overflow pipe (often a white tube that is located inside the toilet tank). The vinegar will sit within the rim – allow it to sit for about an hour or so.

After one hour, use a small Allan wrench and move around the entire rim jet to loosen the limescale. Be careful as to not scratch the porcelain, slow and steady is key here. Once you’ve gone around to each rim jet, flush the toilet and your rim jets should be clog and sediment buildup free and thus functioning like new once again.

If you’re not a DIY type of guy or gal, no worries, call Gillece and we’ll be happy to solve any plumbing problems you’re experiencing!

Be a Tourist in Your Own City – Pittsburgh

Long summer days make it the perfect time to explore Pittsburgh. Some of the most fun can be had by being a tourist in your own city. When was the last time you went downtown or took a free ride on the North Shore? How much do you know about the city you’ve been born and raised in? Take a day and explore this great city of bridges like you’ve never done before.

Stay the weekend in an Airbnb in the city – it’ll be cheaper than a hotel and odds are, you’ll have access to free parking depending on where you stay.

Spend the morning in the Strip District exploring all the shops and trying the various free samples of breads and perogies. Stop for a bite of fresh sea food at Wholey’s or brunch at The Smallman Galley. Head to Market Square in the afternoon and hop on a Just Ducky Tour where you’ll learn things about Pittsburgh you didn’t know or may have forgotten about.

Sleep in and get a later start to the day by parking on the Northside of the city for free and take the T into the city. Spend the day with the kids at Market Square. Be sure to bring swim suites and towels to allow the kids to play in the water display outside of PPG Place. Try a new restaurant and be sure to grab a sweet treat from Prantl’s Bakery.

Instead of staying cooped up inside or going to the movie theatre on a rainy day, get some culture and history of Pittsburgh. Take a free tour of the Old Allegheny County Jail. The tour only takes 30 minutes, arrive at the Ross Street entrance by 12:30 p.m. and hear all about the interesting history of the jail. The Andy Warhol museum or the Mattress Factory – with constantly changing events and exhibits you’ll always have a new and intriguing experience.

For a perfect end to any day in the city, take the incline up Mt. Washington for a great view of the city and watch the sun set from one of the benches at the top. Finally, you can bring the evening to a close with a unique cocktail from The Summit. At Gillece we love our city of Pittsburgh and everything it has to offer. If you partake in anything we mentioned be sure to tag us on Twitter, @GilleceServices and let us know how you enjoyed it!

5 Easy Tips for a Cleaner Kitchen

If your home is like most, odds are you spend most of your time in the kitchen. Between preparing three meals a day, cleaning up after those meals and frequent trips to the refrigerator throughout the day, your kitchen is the second most used room next to the bathroom.

Keeping your kitchen clean and sanitary is an absolute must, considering that’s where your food comes from. Add these five things to your cleaning routine for a cleaner kitchen, and best of all, they’re extremely easy to follow and not time consuming.

1. Microwave
If your home is full of teenagers, your microwave is the most used appliance in your kitchen. Try to clean it at least once a week. Place a cup of boiling water and lemon in the microwave and allow it to sit for two minutes with the door closed. It will loosen the mess inside and make it easier for you to clean and you can avoid scrubbing.

2. Baking soda trick
Keeping a box of open baking soda exposed in the fridge will absorb odors and keep your refrigerator smelling fresh. It works best by keeping a small container in the back of the fridge with the lid off. Be sure to replace it every other month to keep your refrigerator smelling nice and fresh.

3. Sink
When you think of all the things you pour down your sink drain, it’s no wonder that a nasty odor begins to seep from the drain. Avoid this by pouring one cup of baking soda down the drain once a month followed by a half of cup of vinegar. The baking soda and vinegar will cut any odor and remove any blockages or potential clogs.

4. Blender
Sometimes the little cracks in your blender are almost impossible to reach. A quick and easy tip is to add some dish soap and a little bit of water and turn the blender on for about 10 to 20 seconds. Essentially, allowing it to clean itself.

5. Garbage disposal splash guard
Using a tooth brush and cleaner, scrub away the grease and food debris both on the inside and outside of the garbage disposal splash guard. Leftover food and grease can easily cling here and stink up your kitchen.

Common Plumbing Problems that Can Arise with Your Swimming Pool

Swimming pools are a great way to escape the heat and is potentially one of the best features of your home. Although swimming pools are only used several months out of the year, you can still experience plumbing issues with them. Swimming pools have the power to cause some sever damage as well as cost you a bundle to repair if you’re not careful. If you are a new owner of a residential swimming pool, educate yourself on the following common plumbing problems pools can have – it will save you a hassle and a headache later.

One of the worst potential plumbing problems that can happen with your residential swimming pool are leaks. This is something you might not notice at first and perhaps maybe not even for a while, but it can be extremely detrimental. A leaking swimming pool can ruin its foundation and the surrounding ground while also raising the cost of chemicals you put in your pool and raising your water bill.

This is something you obviously want to catch early on, but how can you tell if your swimming pool has a leak? There are three simple yet important things you can keep track of that will help you quickly identify signs of a leak.

1. As a residential pool owner, it is a good idea to keep an ongoing record of your water bill all year long. This will help you keep track of how much money you spend on water month to month. During the summer, if the amount you spend on water in August compared to July or August of the previous year spikes dramatically, this may indicate a leak in your swimming pool.

2. To quickly identify a leak, keep a record of how many times you add water to the swimming pool. If you find that your water bill has increased along with an increase in adding water to the pool more than normal, odds are you most definitely have a leak somewhere in the pool.

3. The third record you should keep is how often you add chemicals to the swimming pool. If the swimming pool is leaking, then you’ll have less water, meaning you’ll have to add more fresh water and therefore, more chemicals. An increase in adding more chemicals to your swimming pool also increases your chances of having a leak.

Should you speculate that your swimming pool has a leak, call a professional to determine the source and to solve the problem.

Another common plumbing problem with swimming pools is a clogged or capped main drain. Swimming pools function by taking water from the main drain and the skimmer. When the main drain is clogged or capped, the pool can no longer function efficiently and will filter much slower. What does this mean? Your pool will have a more difficult time staying clean. If your pool seems to be constantly green no matter how often you add chemicals, shock or clean it, check the main drain to see if it has become clogged or has been capped in the past.

Best Things to Do Before Renting an Apartment or Home

Before renting an apartment or a house, you want to make sure you do all you can to make sure it’s the one you want. You’ll definitely want to check the plumbing and the electric before signing a yearlong agreement.

In most cases, the tenant is responsible for all of the drains in the apartment or house that is being rented. Before you sign your lease, make sure you’ve tested all of the drains in the unit you’ll be renting before you agree to a whole year and end up with a toilet that doesn’t flush.

Speaking of toilets, flush all of the toilets in the unit and make sure the water goes down properly and that it doesn’t continue to run a while after. Fill all of the sinks and tub up with water to make they are draining properly and that there isn’t an odor coming from the drain. It’s also a good idea to ask if you can run the dishwasher or washing machine through a cleaning cycle to ensure that it is working properly.

While touring apartments and homes, you might notice that a unit has a ton of outlets in the kitchen, which is great! That is, until you move in and find out that half of them don’t even work. Before signing that lease, bring your phone charger along with you so you can test out all of the outlets to make sure they’re working properly. It’s also a good idea to check all smoke detectors and request that they be updated or the batteries changed before moving in.

To protect your security deposit, take a video or picture of all marks on the walls, floor and carpet. Do this while you tour the place with your future landlord. Save them on a storage cloud you use and email copies to your landlord so there is a documented date and time. This way, when you go to move out, you have proof of anything that was already there before you moved in.

4 Steps to Retrieve Fallen Items from the Sink

We’ve all been there, we’ve dropped an earring down the drain, a family heirloom or simply knocked the toothpaste cap into the drain on accident. Whether we need or want some of these items back, which in most cases you do, the item should be retrieved to prevent a clog, blockage or back up from happening.

Although, there is no need to call the plumber right away, try these four easy steps first before reaching for the phone for further assistance.

Step 1 – The first thing you need to do is to turn the water off. As soon as you realize that something that is not supposed to go down the drain has in fact done so, quickly turn off the water and avoid running anymore water down the drain. In most cases, the item is in the J-Bend (the curved part of the drain that looks like a “J”) of the P-Trap of the sink, which for the moment is easy to retrieve. If it gets pushed past the J-Bend, the lost item will be more difficult to reach and might become permanently lost.

Step 2 – Prepare the area underneath the J-Bend for water flow. Placing a bucket under the J-Bend will catch all the water that will fall once you open the drain.

Step 3 – The first step in removing the pipe is unscrewing the slip nut on the J-Bend. There are two slip nuts, you’ll first want to remove the end that is closes to the sink, then move onto the second slip nut. You should be able to do this by hand, if you’re unable to remove either slip nut and you need to use a wrench, call a plumber for assistance – you don’t want to cause any damage to the pipes. Once you have successfully removed the J-Bend, search the pipe and the bucket for the item that went down the drain.

Step 4 – Hopefully you were successful and retrieved the earring, heirloom or toothpaste cap that made its way down the drain and you can replace the J-Bend by screwing the slip nuts by hand back in place.

This is a straight forward DIY project, but should you experience any problems or difficulties removing the J-Bend or you’re unsuccessful at locating your missing object, call a licensed and certified plumber. All hope is not lost, especially if a priceless family heirloom has made its way down the drain, a plumber will have more tools and expertise to retrieve your desired item.

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