Classic Water Damage Cleanup Blunders

This article is courtesy of Cousino Restoration.

A flooded home is bad enough. The last thing you need is to add to the damage and stress by making mistakes in the cleanup process. The good news is that these mistakes are easy to avoid if you are vigilant. However, if you don’t take the cleanup process seriously, you are likely to make some of these mistakes and regret it down the road. Here are four of these classic mistakes according to our water damage restoration experts at Cousino Restoration in Toledo.

Procrastination

Procrastinating is a part of human nature. The appeal of procrastinating is made even stronger by the fact that water damage restoration can be a difficult and time-intensive job. Don’t give in to this temptation! Every prolonged hour that floodwater remains in your home, the greater damage that is caused. Given enough time, water can seep into your walls, carpets, and furniture – causing irreparable damage. Another common problem that occurs from procrastination is mold growth. Mold can begin growing as soon as 24 hours after a flood so waiting to clean up the floodwater will very likely lead to mold growth.

Underestimating Hidden Dangers

A flood brings about far more problems than just the water itself. Underestimating the full extent of potential dangers after a flood can be a very hazardous mistake to make. Some of the dangers that occur after a flood are contaminated water, mold growth, and structural damage. Each one of these can cause far more damage to your home than you would expect and put your health at risk. This is especially true with contaminated water. Contaminated water is floodwater that contains harmful bacteria and microorganisms. If there is any chance that floodwater in your home is at all contaminated, you should avoid contact with it and leave the cleanup to the pros.

Not Paying Attention To The Details

Properly completing the water damage restoration process requires a large amount of attention to detail. The main reason for this is that unless all the water is removed, you will still encounter problems. Even just one uncleaned pocket of moisture in the basement can lead to damage to your drywall and mold growth that spreads throughout your home. Since you don’t have time to scrupulously examine and clean every inch of your home we at Cousino Restoration in Toledo are here to help.

Not Calling The Pros

With the rising popularity of DIY methods, an increasingly common trend after flooding is homeowners attempting to restore the damage on their own. This is usually a bad idea for a number of reasons. First of all, water damage restoration is a difficult and time-intensive process. Most people who attempt to do it on their own find that they took on a much bigger time commitment than they expected. Second, professional restoration companies have the equipment to properly restore a home. Without the benefit of water pumps, industrial drying fans, and state-of-the-art restoration technology you will be unable to give your home the service it really deserves.  

How to Spot Hazardous Trees on a Property

Leaning - Most trees will lean a little, but sometimes trees lean because of poor weight distribution or root damage. If your tree looks like it is leaning a little more than usual, check the base of the tree. If you see cracked or heaving soil on the opposite side of the lean or exposed roots around the bottom, it is time to have it removed before it falls and damages your property.

Multiple Trunks - The structure of your tree may affect its stability. For example, multi-trunk trees, or trees with splits in their trunks may split at the separation point during a storm or from the weight of the two sides as the tree ages. If you own a tree with multiple trunks, watch for cracks in the trunk that may be a sign that the tree will soon fall.

Damage - Damaged trees are at risk of toppling. If you have a large tree on your property, it is essential to check it for damaged bark, premature autumn color, reduced foliage, or mushrooms, conks, and carpenter ants at the base of the tree.

(This article is courtesy of DKI Services, whose local affiliate is Cousino Restoration)

Does Changing Weather Leave Your Car Carpet a Mess?

Knowing how to clean the carpet in your car can help keep your car looking and smelling good for years. Whether you’re looking to sell your car or simply enjoy it more, keeping it clean is an important step. Here are three key steps in cleaning and maintaining your car’s carpet.

1. Prepare the interior

Before you get to the carpet, organize the interior and gather up any loose items floating around in the car (remember to look under the seats). Clear out as many things as you can, and then remove your floor mats and shake them vigorously to remove any loose dirt or debris. Place them next to your car in a clean, dry area.

Next, grab a vacuum and get down to business. Make sure you vacuum under the pedals and seats, and pay special attention to any crumbs, trash or dirt hidden in the crevices.

2. Remove car carpet stains

Once you’ve cleaned the interior thoroughly, turn your attention to the carpet itself. There are a lot of good carpet shampoo options that will take out tough stains and won’t create discoloration.

Spray the carpet shampoo onto the carpet, following the directions on the label. Use a brush to work in the shampoo using circular motions. If you’re trying to get stains out of your car’s carpet, you may need to repeat this a time or two. Remember not to use too much shampoo at once; the carpet won’t dry as quickly, and excess moisture can lead to mold later on.

Once you’ve thoroughly scrubbed the carpet, let it dry. Allow a few hours for this process to wrap up. To speed things up, press the carpet firmly with a dry towel to absorb any excess moisture, then let your car air out. Your best bet is to park your car in a sunny area and leave the doors open so the carpet will dry faster. Make sure you allow it to dry thoroughly before closing the doors and windows.

Once you’re finished shampooing, vacuum your carpets (and your mats, if you also needed to shampoo their carpeting) one more time once they’re almost completely dry. Often, the shampooing process can cause deep dirt and debris to rise to the surface of the carpet. Vacuum it up before you start driving again to prevent this dirt from causing future stains.

3. Clean car mats

While you’re waiting for the car’s carpet to dry, give your car mats a cleanup. Vacuum both sides of the mats. If they’re made of fabric, you can use carpet shampoo on them, following the same process as above.

Be sure to wash the plastic undersides of the mats, too, to eliminate any dirt. Then, pat them with a towel and hang them in a sunny area so they can dry completely. Shake your mats one last time before you place them back in the car. This removes any extra dirt that might have sneaked its way back on while the mats were air-drying.

Cleaning your car’s carpeting should be done regularly, but doing so will make the carpet last longer and help your car look and . While cleanliness is one important part of the picture, protection is another. See how Nationwide can help keep you and your car protected.

(This article is courtesy of Nationwide Insurance)

Don't Drive Yourself Crazy

You are caught in traffic, and you’re late for an appointment. Just then, a tailgater rubs you the wrong way. “He’s way too close,” you think, as your pulse quickens. Then a lane hopper swerves in front of you and nearly runs you off the road. You grip the steering wheel tighter in a desperate attempt to maintain composure.

At that moment, anger seizes the wheel. You mutter to yourself under your breath, honk your horn and maneuver 3,000 pounds of metal like a race car driver.

Maybe you won’t be stopped by the police, but you will arrive at your destination angry and not ready for your appointment.

Experts agree that distraction coupled with heightened emotions contributes heavily to driver error, which causes a large percentage of accidents in the US.

Safety experts emphasize that while you can’t control someone else’s behavior, you can control your own. Below are several tips and strategies to defuse your tensions:

*Give yourself a moment to regain your composure. Breathe deeply, count to 10 or think serene thoughts.

*Consider potential consequences such as a ticket, a collision or higher insurance premiums

*Listen to soothing music.

*If emotion overwhelms you, pull over to a safe area. Get out of the car and walk around. Don’t get back on the road until you have calmed down.

5 Car Features to Protect You on Winter Roads

With nearly 70 percent of the nation’s roads in snowy regions, the majority of Americans have had a “white-knuckle” driving experience in their past. Winter roads claim the lives of 1,300 people every year and injure 116,800, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Fortunately, new features including forward collision alerts and lane departure warnings, are protecting Americans on slick roads. The impact of these new safety features has been substantial.

Vehicles made after the year 2000 helped to prevent 700,000 crashes, saved the lives of an estimated 2,000 people annually and kept one million people safe from injury, according to a report conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“There’s no question, vehicles are safer today than they were a decade or two ago,” says Phil Marzolf, manager of i25 Kia outside of Denver. “Consumers are embracing new features that provide additional safety during bad weather conditions.”

An increasing number of new vehicles are now equipped with these five technological safety advances:

1. Forward collision warning and auto-braking

Vehicles can sense hazards in the road, warn the driver and brake the car to prevent a crash. If a driver is following someone who slams on the brakes, for example, a combination of sensors, laser beams and cameras detect the problem and alert the driver. Assistive technology automatically applies the brakes to prevent a crash. The driver resumes control as soon as he or she applies pressure to the brake.

“It’s amazing technology,” Marzolf says. “In most cases, the technology senses the problem before the driver does. Even if it engages the brakes a second sooner, it could save a driver’s life.”

2. Lane departure warning system

Keeping drivers in their respective lanes on slippery roads is essential to highway safety. If a car starts to drift into another lane, the driver is alerted to the hazard by a buzzer, warning light or vibration. Assistive technology will start to correct the problem, slowly moving the car back into the proper lane (though the technology does not work when snow covers lane markings). The driver resumes control as soon as he or she starts to make the correction.

3. Adaptive headlights

Visibility can be an issue on winter roads. Traditional headlights shine straight ahead, but adaptive headlights react to the steering wheel. If a driver turns the wheel to the right, the headlights follow to increase visibility.

“It sounds like a simple feature, but adaptive headlights can really help drivers follow the road,” Marzolf says.

Insurance companies have noticed a 10 percent drop in the number of property damage liability claims in cars that have adaptive headlights, according to a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

4. LED taillights

When snow is falling, spotting taillights ahead can be a trying task. Halogen light bulbs were the standard, but now more manufacturers are moving to LED bulbs, Marzolf says. LED bulbs outshine halogen bulbs, which gives winter drivers an edge when visibility is low.

“All the vehicles we sell have LED lights now,” Marzolf says. “Again, it’s a small change but one that gives drivers added security.”

5. Traction control

In slippery conditions, tires can lose traction and spin. The traction control feature helps tires grip such slippery roads, Marzolf said. In wet conditions, tires can lose traction and spin. Traction control uses sensors to measure rotational speed in tires and triggers the engine to adjust the level of power the vehicle needs to regain control. If needed, the sensors can pump the brakes to keep the driver from losing control.

More features become standard

Traction control and LED taillights are already becoming standard features in most vehicles, which means there isn’t an added cost for them. In time, Marzolf expects the assistive-driving features will become standard as well.

“There was a time when anti-lock brakes were new,” he said. “Now, they’re an afterthought, and they have been standard in cars for some time. We’re not there yet, but I do expect assistive-driving features to become just as standard as anti-lock brakes.”

Currently consumers have to pay extra for assistive-driving features. These features could add $1,800-$4,500 to the price tag of a new car, according to Marzolf and AutoTrader.com.

“The added cost is sometimes a problem, but we’ll see reductions in time,” Marzolf says. “In the near future, I think drivers will embrace these tools and be glad they have them at their disposal on winter roads.”

(article courtesy of Nationwide Insurance)

Autumn Driving Tips For All Drivers

Winter gets the bad reputation for difficult weather-related driving conditions, and while it’s well deserved, fall has some surprisingly difficult driving challenges as well. Hot and cold weather, extra rain, possible snow, slick fallen leaves and more turn fall driving into a bit of a dicey experience. Arm yourself with these tips, and look forward to a smooth driving season.

Watch out for deer

There’s a reason deer hunting season spans over fall and winter in most states. At this time of year, deer are going through their prime mating season. Young deer, males especially, are known to act erratically at this time, seemingly throwing their usually cautious nature to the wind. This increased movement makes it easier to track them, but unfortunately it also makes it easier to collide with them on the road.

There are three key points to remember if you encounter a deer on or near the road:

  1. Slow down and watch out: deer are rarely alone, and there are often more than one of them crossing the street at a time.
    Tip: Some drivers will signal if they’ve seen a deer in a certain area by flashing their high beams to oncoming traffic. If you notice another driver do this, drive slowly and carefully through the area, especially if you’re in or at the edge of wooded areas

  2. Do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer. The best method is slowly but firmly step on the brakes. Keeping control of your vehicle is key. Deer cause many accidents by causing inexperienced drivers to overcorrect when trying to avoid hitting the animal. Overcorrecting can have deadly consequences as often the only other directions your vehicle can go are off the road or into oncoming traffic.

  3. Always exercise caution while driving at dawn or dusk. Deer are most active at this time. Deer also tend to congregate in fields at the edge of woods, in meadows or other partially wooded areas. Take special caution when driving at these times or in these settings.

Don’t brake on leaves

In fact, it’s wise to avoid any sudden shift in momentum or direction while driving over leaves. Wet or decomposing leaves can be as slick as ice; they decrease the friction between your tires and the road, making it easier for your vehicle to spin out of control.

Fallen leaves can also obscure lane lines and other markers on the road. Be attentive and make an effort to be aware and keep to your designated lane when driving. Also keep an eye out for stop signs, as their signature red color is less distinct against similar fall colors.

Plan ahead for the weather

Autumn brings many of us a taste of every kind of weather our climate has to offer. At this time of year, the rising and setting sun aligns almost perfectly with east and westbound roads, treating drivers to difficult glare. Rain also tends to be more abundant in the fall, so remembering rain safety and etiquette (if your wipers are moving, your headlights should be on) is important. Finally, as temperatures dip, bridges and other similarly exposed roadways are prone to freezing and must be navigated with care.

Grab some good sunglasses, stock up with new wipers and rain repellent for your windshield, and drive with care over raised roads.

Prepare the car for travel

The late summer heat can take a toll on any vehicle, and with alternatively severe weather on the horizon, preparing the car for autumn travel is essential. These are the basics:

Test the car’s battery
Hot weather can severely strain a car’s battery, and cold weather isn’t much better. As fall is a time during which much of the country experiences drastic temperature changes daily, consider being proactive in testing your car’s battery and buying a replacement, if necessary.

Get an oil change
Engine oil should be replaced at the recommended intervals stated in the vehicle owner’s manual. You should check the vehicle’s oil level on a monthly basis.

Inspect tires
Warm weather adds pressure to tires, which could lead to a blowout. Inspecting the vehicle’s tires on a regular basis, including the spare, could help to prevent an issue.
Use a tire gauge to check the tire pressure in all four tires and the spare at least once a month. Check to make sure that the tires are set to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.

Maintain fluid levels
If your vehicle lacks appropriate fluid levels, there’s a chance the car may break down. Maintaining proper fluid levels can also add thousands of miles to the life of the car.
Check the following systems:

  • Engine

  • Transmission

  • Radiator/cooling system

  • Brakes

  • Battery

  • Window washer

  • Air conditioner

(This article is courtesy of Nationwide Insurance)

How Much Air Should You Put in Your Tires

Tire maintenance is one of the most important things you can do for your car from a safety and cost standpoint. The easiest way to care for your tires is both quick and inexpensive: maintain the correct tire pressure.

Driving on under-inflated tires is one of the biggest causes of tire failure, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and under-inflated tires present many other problems. They wear out more rapidly, handle poorly and reduce fuel efficiency. In addition, over-inflated tires are more susceptible to damage from road irregularities, and this also creates a bumpier ride. Overfilling your tires is just as dangerous as under-filling them, so it’s important you know what is recommended for your vehicle.

Determining your tire pressure requirements

Since tire pressure is so important to your safety and your car’s overall performance, it’s important to know what tire pressure is right for your vehicle. Air pressure in tires is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI; usually, the recommended pressure ranges between 30 and 35 PSI.

To learn what your tire pressure should be, look for your manufacturer’s recommendation, which is printed on a label inside your car. Depending on the vehicle, this label may be on the edge of the vehicle’s door, on the doorpost or in the glove box. The label will usually give recommendations for the front and rear tires as well as the spare, and it’s important you stick to those guidelines. (While you’re at it, check the air in your spare tire, too. It loses air pressure over time.) Even after you’ve replaced your tires, the same pressure guidelines on your car’s label apply to new tires of the same size. If your tires are larger than the stock models that came on your car and you’re unsure of the recommended PSI, check the tire’s sidewall to find the maximum cold PSI level.

Check the pressure first thing in the morning or wait at least three hours after driving; this provides sufficient time for them to cool back down.

Maintaining ideal tire pressure

Of course, knowing your recommended PSI isn’t enough. You have to ensure you’re checking your tires regularly. Some experts recommend you check the air pressure every time you refuel; others say once a month is sufficient. Monitoring the amount of air in your tires will let you know if you have a small leak and can help you avoid an unexpected flat tire.

Frequently checking your PSI becomes even more important in the fall and winter, when outside temperatures drop and weather conditions fluctuate causing your tires to lose air more quickly. Generally speaking, your tire will gain or lose one PSI for every 10-degree change in temperature, which means if you have a sudden drop of 30 degrees, you could lose three PSI overnight. If your tires were already low, this could cause tire damage, steering problems or even a flat tire.

Knowing and maintaining the right air pressure is important to the safety and longevity of your tires. All it takes is a few minutes of your time.

Once you have the right tire pressure, make sure you also have the right coverage. Learn more about how Nationwide auto insurance can help protect you and save you money.

This article is courtesy of Nationwide Insurance.

Ways to Prevent Your Car from Overheating

The Summer heat can be brutal, not only on us but also our vehicles.  The following are some tips to prevent your car from overheating, courtesy of Nationwide Insurance.

1. Park in the shade

You can feel the temperature difference between the shade and the sun – and so can your car. Parking in the shade not only keeps you cool, but can prolong the life of your car. No shady spot? Use a sunshade to reduce heat inside the car.

2. Tint your windows

A local dealership or auto body shop can apply tinted windows to help keep your car cooler, and protect your interior from sun damage.

3. Use a sun shade

Keeping a sun shade in the car is helpful because you can’t always guarantee that you’ll find a shaded or covered area to park in. These UV heat shields will keep the interior from getting super-hot, plus it protects your interior from the damaging effects of the sun. You might even consider getting a custom-made sun screen that is designed to fit your make and model of car. These special shades can be more effective at keeping all of the rays out.

4. Get rid of hot air

Closed windows trap hot air, and the glass serves as a conductor that helps heat up the enclosed space. Leave your windows open slightly so the air can escape – and if you have a sunroof, crack that, too. Make sure the opening is not large enough for someone to reach through. If you leave your windows cracked, remember to keep an eye on the weather – one sudden summer storm could lead to a soggy interior.

5. Turn the floor vents on

Most people get in the car and turn the upper vents on “high” to get the air flowing. But you’re actually better off directing the air through the floor vents. Hot air rises, so switch to the bottom vents and put your blower on the maximum setting to push that air out. Then, once the car begins cooling, you can open the upper vents again.

6. Use the fresh air setting on your A/C

Using the re-circulation setting means you’re just moving that hot, trapped air around your vehicle, so that’s something you want to use after your car has had the chance to cool down. Give it 10 minutes or so, then switch over.

7. Keep your eye on the temperature gauge

 Located on the dashboard, the device has a needle that should always be pointing toward the center. If it points toward hot, pull over, turn off the engine and let the car cool down.

8. Turning on the heat

Turning on the heat may be the last thing you want to do on a hot summer day, but it can pull hot air from the engine compartment and cool the engine. It won’t fix the underlying problem, but it’s a good measure for long drives.

9. Add engine coolant

This is especially important in hot months. To check the coolant level, open the hood and locate the coolant reservoir. The coolant level is shown by indicator lines on the reservoir. If too low, simply add the appropriate amount of coolant and reattach the cap. Engine coolant is often sold as a 50/50 mix of water and coolant. You can also buy concentrated coolant and mix it yourself.

Safety tip: Never add coolant to a hot engine. Wait for the engine to cool before removing the cap or pouring in coolant.

10. Have your cooling system flushed by a mechanic

Even if you keep engine coolant at the right levels, it will eventually get dirty and need to be replaced. Flushing involves draining old coolant from the radiator, cleaning it with flush fluid and adding new coolant. Mechanics recommend a flush every 40,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.

11. Consider replacing your battery

If your car battery is older than three years, it may not be providing the power it once did, so your car has to work harder and can overheat. Your mechanic can help you determine whether you may need a new battery.

If you find yourself in a situation where your car overheats, follow these steps to ensure you and your vehicle remain safe:

  • Pull over, park your car and turn off the engine as soon as possible. Let your car cool for a minimum of 10 minutes.
  • Open the hood of your car to allow the heat to clear out quickly.
  • Once your car has cooled off, turn the ignition to its first position (don’t start the engine). If you see that the temperature gauge is within a normal range and engine fluid levels are sufficient, try to start the engine.
  • If the engine makes unusual sounds or it does not start at all, it’s best to stay on the safe side and call for roadside assistance to have your car towed. This will allow for a mechanic to inspect it and make the necessary repairs.

What can cause your car to overheat?

Hot temperatures alone might not be causing your vehicle to overheat. If your car’s cooling systems aren’t functioning correctly, it can lead to serious damage to your engine and expensive repairs. Here are a few common engine problems that can cause your car to run hot that you should know about:

  • Coolant: Every car has a cooling system to help keep the temperature of the engine down. If your cooling system has a leak, blockage or pump malfunction, the coolant might not be able to circulate properly. Cooling system malfunctions aren’t just problematic when it’s hot out; very cold temperatures can cause coolant to freeze and prevent circulation.
  • Thermostat: Another possible issue could be a problem with the thermostat. A vehicle’s thermostat is responsible for regulating the amount of coolant flowing through the engine. A broken or malfunctioning one can easily cause your car to overheat.
  • Low Oil: A car’s oil does more than just lubricate moving parts. It also helps to remove excess heat from the engine. If your vehicle has low oil, it might be causing your car to run hot.
  • Radiator Fan: If your cooling fan isn’t turning on or running at the right level, it can case your car to overheat. Radiator fans usually run on electric motors, so any motor mechanical problems can lead to your fan not providing enough cool air flow.

Of course these aren’t the only possible problems that can cause a car to overheat. It’s a good idea to find a reliable mechanic who can diagnose and service your car, and get protection in case your car overheats while you’re on the road. Learn about how Nationwide Roadside Assistance will help to protect you in the event something goes wrong.

Fireworks Safety Tips

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

These tips are courtesy of Cousino Restoration

Learn more at The Red Cross

6 Reasons to Start a Garden

Get out your gardening tools and stock up on seeds. Growing your own food provides fresh ingredients for your meals, but you’ll soon see other benefits of home gardens that you may not have expected. Here are six ways to make the most of growing your own vegetables:

1. Control your crops

Growing your own produce lets you control what ends up on your family’s table. You decide what fertilizer, water and pest control to use, as well as whether to grow organic.

2. Live the ‘fresh is best’ lifestyle

Nothing beats the flavor-and-nutrient-packed power of fresh-picked fruits and vegetables. Once harvested, produce begins to lose moisture and nutrients. At the grocery store, the freshness of your vegetables is largely out of your control. But when you’ve grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can know exactly when they’ve been picked and how fresh they are.

3. Make your yard inviting

A vegetable and fruit garden can add life, color and beauty to your backyard. The smell of ripening strawberries and the sight of crisp cucumbers are a warm invitation to people and pollinators alike. Plants that sport beautiful flowers to encourage pollination—like beans, peas and fruit trees—can really make a splash in your backyard. Plus, the insects they attract will likely pollinate other plants as well, making your whole garden grow faster.

4. Cut down on your grocery budget

One of the biggest advantages of growing your own food is that it can save you money. The price of a pack of seeds is almost equivalent to what you would pay for a single vegetable or fruit at the store. It may even cost less when you factor in the money spent on the gas used to drive to the supermarket. Plus, you can grow organic vegetables for a fraction of what they retail for in store. When taking food costs into consideration, gardening can become an appealing option to cut back on your grocery bill.

5. Make gardening a family hobby

Gardening is a fun, family-friendly activity that allows kids to get their hands dirty and learn where their food comes from. From planting seedlings to building salads together, starting a vegetable garden is a great way to get your family off the couch and onto their feet.

6. Make your health a priority

There’s one important nutrient gardening can give you before you even take a bite of your produce: vitamin D. The sun’s rays promote vitamin D production, which is vital to our health. Tending a backyard garden for about 30 minutes daily can promote better sleep and positive energy. Just rremember the sunscreen.

Now that you see the benefits of starting a vegetable and fruit garden, learn how to plant one in 10 simple steps.

(This article is courtesy of Nationwide.com)