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.


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)

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.

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)


How to Detail Your Car Like a Pro

A lot of dirt and grime builds up on your car over the Winter, both inside and out.  With the following 10 tips courtesy of Nationwide Insurance's blog, you can have your car looking as if you had a professional detailing done.

1. Detailing your car

Clean every nook and cranny in your car, including dashboard crevices, seat belts, floor mats, tires, windows and more.

2. Between the seats

Use canned air to clean places you can’t reach, such as the area between your seats and the center console.

3. Floor mats

To properly clean your floor mats, remove them from your car and soak them in water and laundry detergent. Then, take a stiff brush or broom and scrub. Rinse thoroughly and let dry before putting them back in your car.

4. Dashboard and door panels

To clean the dashboard and door panels, you can use a firm toothbrush to loosen dust and debris stuck in the crevices. Then use a vacuum and wipe down with a damp cloth.

5. Seats

Use a lint roller to collect accumulated debris on your car seats. Clean seats made of fabric upholstery thoroughly, as they tend to attract dirt, crumbs and stray hairs.

6. Seat belts

You can clean your seat belts by wiping them down with a cotton cloth dipped in a mix of warm water, dish detergent and vinegar.

7. Tires

Clean your tires with a non-acid based cleaner and a tire brush or soft paintbrush. Then wash it off with some water.

8. Headlights

Don’t forget to clean your headlights! Dirty lights won’t have the same level of brightness, and can make it more difficult to see at night. Take a cloth with a small amount of toothpaste, and rub headlights in a circular motion.

9. Trunk

Remove all trash and empty out your trunk. Then vacuum any dirt and debris. If there are any stains in your trunk, you can use a carpet cleaner to remove them.

10. Windows

The last step in a DIY car wash is to clean the windows and mirrors. Use a glass cleaner and microfiber cloth to wipe down the windows as well as the rear and side-view mirrors.

Once your car is clean as a whistle, finish the job with a beautiful shine. Check out our DIY guide to car waxing and have your car looking better than ever.

20 Essential Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring arrives this week!  Now is a good time to  do some of that deep cleaning you've been putting off around the house.  Nationwide Insurance has compiled some of the best DIY spring cleaning tips to help you get started.

Spring cleaning tips

Remove water stains with lemon for a natural faucet fix

This spring, make faucets clean and sparkly by rubbing a lemon half on the water stains. The citric acid helps remove hard water marks. Then, use the other half of the lemon for our next tip.

Clean your microwave by heating lemon juice and rinds in water

Cut a lemon into halves, squeeze the juice into 1/2 cup of water and drop the rinds into the mixture. Microwave for three minutes and let it stand for five minutes without opening the door. The trapped steam will loosen the grime, so you can wipe the microwave clean with less elbow grease.

Use white vinegar to beat shower head buildup

Looking for more natural ways to clean your bathroom? Vinegar can dissolve the mineral deposits that accumulate in showerheads over time, causing reduced pressure and water flow. Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar, secure it over the showerhead with a rubber band and leave it overnight to get rid of buildup. Just be sure to run the shower before you hop in, or you risk smelling like vinegar all day.

Clean stainless steel sinks with baking soda

Simply wet your sink and faucet, sprinkle baking soda, and scrub with a sponge. If you need more heavy-duty scrubbing power, add salt to the baking soda.

Use newspaper to clean dirty windows and mirrors

Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar, 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of liquid soap into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto the glass and scrub with newspaper for a streak-free window or mirror. The ink acts as a mild abrasive and allows you to make use of old newspapers.

Organize your fridge and cabinets with rotating turntables

Don’t limit rotating turntables and Lazy Susans to your tabletops. After discarding old condiments and spices, organize your pantries and refrigerator with this useful storage hack.

Place a wet dryer sheet on your ceramic stovetop to remove burnt-on residue

Dryer sheets are non-abrasive and a great way to remove burnt-on food from your stove. Place the wet dryer sheet on your stovetop at least 15 minutes before rubbing the gunk away.

Clean your grill with an onion.

Get your grill cleaned up and ready for the warm weather. First, heat it up and spray some white vinegar onto the grates to help loosen the residue. Then, scrub the area firmly using half an onion. The acid from the onion will rid your grill of any leftover remnants.

Let coffee filters do more than put a spring in your step

Does your TV screen or computer monitor show fingerprints, smudges and dust? The fiber in coffee filters is gentle enough to rub them away, even on delicate TV screens. Just don’t press too hard!

Unpack and stack your spring/summer clothes vertically

Are your dresser drawers a mess? Instead of putting away folded clothes flat, stack them vertically for easy access.

Use cream of tartar to clean toasters and tea kettles

Combine 1 tsp of cream of tartar with just enough water to create a milky paste. Rub the solution onto your stainless steel appliances and wipe away to reveal their original shine.

Know your couch or rug before cleaning it.

Don’t ruin your upholstered furniture by using the wrong cleaner. Not all manufacturer labels state what type of solvent to use. Familiarize yourself with the cleaning codes below.

Upholstery Cleaning Labels:
W: Use water-based cleaning solutions.
S: Use dry-cleaning solvents. Do not saturate. Do not use water.
S-W: Use water-based cleaners or dry-cleaning solvents.
X: Use a vacuum or brush only.

Use a window squeegee to scrape pet hair from your carpet or rug

The rubber edge of the squeegee is a great tool for gripping and removing pet hair from your rug. Use a firm grip and make sure to clean up the excess hair as you go. Finish by running the vacuum to catch any hair still on the surface.

Avoid scratching floors by placing clean towels under furniture while rearranging

Looking to freshen up your home by rearranging furniture? Slide heavy pieces like couches and tables easily and without damage by placing folded, clean towels under each end of the furniture.

Use Velcro strips to keep drawer organizers in place

Attach the grippy strips to one end of your drawer and the other to your drawer organizers. This keeps the organizers in place, but lets you remove them when needed.

Put the spring back in your dirty keyboards with cotton swabs

If certain keys or sticking, or your entire keyboard just doesn’t have the same pop that it used to, chances are dirt and crumbs are the culprits. Sweep cotton swabs between your keys to dislodge dust and grime. And for a real deep clean, use compressed air to blast away any leftover dust, and follow it up with one more sweep through your keys, this time using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to kill germs.

Use a dustpan to help fill a large mop bucket

Not all mop buckets fit in bathtubs or sinks. If your bucket is too large, try using a dustpan as a spout by placing it flat on your sink to transfer water to the bucket. This handy hack is also helpful for other large containers you want to fill.

Use a butter knife to clean air vents

Don’t let that dust build up for another minute; use a butter knife to reach those tough to get places between and behind your vents. Simply wrap the knife in a rag and wipe between the slats. Then, open the windows and run your central air to fill your home with fresh spring air (just be sure your heat or AC isn’t on while you’re running the fan).

Wrap a towel over a broom to clean hard-to-reach places

Cobwebs and dust can collect in room corners and on ceiling fans. Wipe them away by securing a towel over the bristle end of a broom with a large rubber band. The dust and cobwebs stick to the cloth.

Recycle old socks to use as dusting mitts

Cotton is a great fabric for trapping dust particles. Try using a (clean) pair of socks as dust mitts and you’ll have more control over where dust goes.

Whether you’re doing your annual spring clean-up or a weekly deep clean, check out this list of 10 things you never clean in your home (but should).

Installing a Battery Back-up Sump Pump

Spring is just around the corner, and in Northwest Ohio that means the possibility of strong storms, heavy rains, and sometimes the loss of power.

If your worst nightmare is watching the water rise in your basement because the power has gone out and the sump pump is silent, you can ease your fears by installing a battery-operated back-up sump pump.  A back-up pump is a small, easy-to-install submersible unit that is powered by a heavy-duty battery.  It is kept charged and ready to go when the electricity is on so it can supply power to the back-up pump when the power fails.  This pump will help assure that your basement or crawl space remains dry and undamaged.

You can do it yourself for around $250 to $500 in about 2 to 4 hours if you have plastic pipes.  However if you have galvanized or copper plumbing, it's best to have a plumber install the unit. 

No matter who does the work, make sure that a check valve is installed between the new pump and the discharge line from the old pump to prevent back-flow.

The time to purchase Flood Insurance is before the Spring rains hit

Most homeowners policies do not cover floods.  The most serious mistake people can make is to think it won't happen to them because they don't live in a flood plain.  Almost everyone lives in either a low, moderate or high-risk flood plain.  Heavy rain or snow melt can create a flood on any type of property.  Depending on federal disaster relief to cover damages from a flood is also unwise.  Federal disasters are declared in fewer than half the cases of flooding.  The Federal Government mostly provides loans that have to be repaid with interest, whereas flood insurance covers most of the damage for a fixed price.

Anyone can buy flood insurance, even if the property has been flooded before, provided you live in a community that participates in the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program).  There's usually a 30-day waiting period before new and modified policies go into effect, which means you can't buy a policy and have it be in effect the next day.

Flood insurance will pay for flood repairs, removing mud and debris, and replacing personal belongings and business inventories.

Did you know?

  • Floods occur six times more frequently than fires.
  • Ninety percent of flood disasters do not receive federal disaster aid.
  • The average federal disaster payment is only $2,500 and the largest grant is just $12,500.
  • Between 25 and 30 percent of National Flood Insurance Program claims come from outside high-risk flood areas.

If you're interested in more information regarding flood insurance, please call our office.