Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Guests & Clean Decks!

Two usual staples of our summers, guests and decks, haven't been a part of our household yet this year - but we're getting closer! With a nice covering of moss and dirt leftover from our wet spring, we have been totally avoiding our outside areas, but now that the hot weather's finally here someone promised to clean them up. Last weekend the Pressure Washer came home, and after a few hours and a bit of muddy water, it looks like we have a brand-new brick patio. All we need to do now is send out the Evite, kick back with a few cool drinks and enjoy! Here are some practical tips for anyone hosting an outdoor party this summer, or who just wants a brand-new (looking) patio.

A Pressure Washing project is easy to do yourself, just follow these simple steps:

1. Prep your area, remembering to close your doors and windows!

Cleaning up extra leaves, debris and dirt will make the job much easier, and certainly cleaner. Go over your surfaces with a good broom before adding water. And again, close your windows! You'd be surprised how far (high) pressurized water can unintentionally travel.

2. Choose your pressure properly

There are lots of different pressure washers out there, from tiny electric models to professional super-high pressure gas ones. For moss and mildew you'll want something in between and with enough power to do serious cleaning. Look for models that say 2400 to 3000 psi which are usually gas-powered.

3. Don the proper attire

Short and sweet - wear clothes and shoes you don't mind getting a little mud on and don't mind the splatter! Have fun with it! Also consider wearing goggles and earplugs...

4. Be consistent and give yourself enough time

Trust me on this one - the results look so great, once you start you might decide to do the whole exterior so leave enough time to clean more than you think you're going to. Also, there is a technique to get an even-looking result. Use a non-agressive high pressure tip to keep from creating new "stripes" on your surfaces and work methodically from corner to corner to ensure you cover every inch.

P.S. : I also know that everyone out there will use common sense and be safe, but just in case keep these thoughts in mind:

Never point the pressurized water gun at anyone.

... and ...

It's not recommended to use the Pressure Washer while on a ladder, I'm sure you can imagine why!

To rent a Pressure Washer in the Bay Area, visit AAA Rentals Redwood City

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flash Floods in the Midwest and DIY Water Damage Remediation

One of the big stories today was about the flash floods in Oklahoma - and I can't help but think about the other recent disastrous floods in Arkansas and Tennessee. It's a topic that, after the oil spill, has dominated the news for the past month. We're fortunate here in Northern California not to be regularly subjected to flooding (albeit earthquakes and wild fires take their place). As we learned post-Katrina, the biggest issue after the people have been rescued from their flooded homes is dealing with the effect of water damage on homes and other property. It can be a tedious and extremely expensive process. Today I'd like to talk a little about tips for minor flooding incidences and how you can clean it up yourself.

A quick look on the National Flood Insurance Program's website will show you the estimated cost of just 2 inches of water in your home is $7800. This includes floor/moulding replacement and remediation. In my opinion this figure is on the low side of what the cost would be here in the Bay Area. To help save money many homeowners come to us for the specialized equipment to do it themselves instead of hiring a restoration company. Here are some tips from various Government Agencies, Dri-Eaz a leading manufacturer of drying and remediation equipment and our staff.

Drying a Flooded Home

Step #1 Remove the Puddles
Remove the standing water - now! Just after the flood, this step is the most critical. Remove the water as soon as possible in any way you can, ideally with a large Wet/Dry Vacuum for ease of use and efficiency.Sometimes a carpet cleaner or vacuum with sump pump will also do the trick.

Step#2 Clean up the Mess
Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces with disinfectants. The CDC also recommends laundry or dish detergents in their cleanup guide.

Step#3 Take out the 'Mold Factories'
Remove all items that can't be dried out within 48 hours. Unfortunately, wet teddy bears and carpet should probably go if they can't be cleaned and dried ASAP.

Step#4 Thoroughly Dry Your Home
After flooding, flooring and drywall are typically not just wet on the outside but within and underneath as well, especially if the water has been standing for some time.

Using the same high-volume dehumidifiers and specialized fans that remediation companies use will greatly decrease overall drying time and increase the effectiveness of doing it yourself. Depending on what the climate is like outside your home, there are a few good options:

a) If there is dry, warm air outside your home sometimes all you will need are specialty fans that help wick the moisture up off the floor or walls. You'll want to open all the windows and doors and get a strong cross-flow of air. The key is to blow the dry air across the affected areas to dry.

b) If it is raining or there is wet, humid air outside your home, a combination of fans and dehumidifiers will be needed to remove additional moisture from the indoor air and wet areas. But remember, never use heaters to dry wet floors or drywall - this will cause permanent warping.

Step#5 Clean the Air (if you have mold)
When everything is dry, use an "Air Scrubber" with HEPA filter to remove mold spores, dust, pollen and other particles that may have polluted your indoor air during and after the damage. Per Dri-Eaz the HEPA filter is 99.7% effective on particles to 0.3 microns when used correctly. The Negative Airflow part of this unit can also help remove any lingering odors from the water damage and should be used in a closed environment.

To see what Remediation Equipment you can rent at AAA Rentals Redwood City, click here

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rental Girl's tip # 2 - Aeration

Keeping it healthy is all about the holes

Once you have a perfectly mowed lawn - grass at the optimal height and mowed at the optimal intervals, sit back, relax and pat yourself on the back. Oh yeah, and aerate your lawn. And not just with the "as seen on TV" aerating shoe attachments (though they look fun to use - can anyone say lawn aerating party?). For this segment I turned to the experts at Ryan, a turf and lawn equipment manufacturer for more information. Click here for their site.

Aeration is a step that many do-it-yourselfers miss, but one that has the potential to give you one of the lushest lawns on your block. Aerating your lawn is like allowing it to take a deep breath of air and a gulp of water. In addition to allowing the grass to absorb more water it also increases the resiliency and cushioning of your lawn and allows the root systems to really take hold. This in turn will help your grass survive and flourish through the drier summer months or while you're gone on that long vacation.

Here's how it works
The idea is simple, that by creating holes or plugs of even size (usually about 1 1/2- 3" deep), more air and water will have the chance to get to the grass roots which otherwise become compacted and too dense to absorb the nutrients they need. In the Bay Area, this problem is often amplified by the dense clay soil right beneath the surface. Within a week, your lawn should begin to fortify its roots and you'll see the holes fill with the new, white root system. Some of the results of these stronger roots should be a softer, lusher and healthier lawn.

5 quick tips

#1 Prep the lawn. Be sure to mark your in-ground sprinkler heads!

#2 Set the right depth. Aerating depth ranges between 1 1/2" to 3" and can be adjusted on the aerating machine depending on how thick the dead organic matter is beneath your lawn.

#3 Aerate the lawn in a cross-hatch pattern. Go across the lawn in parallel lines in one direction, then change and make another set of parallel lines at a 45 degree angle to the original lines for maximum coverage.

#4 Don’t remove the “plugs” that will litter your lawn afterward,they will decompose and feed the turf and new roots.

#5 If you live in an area with clay-rich soil, aerating twice a year in the Spring and Fall is most beneficial.

For more information on renting an aerator at AAA Rentals Redwood City click here.

Let your lawn breathe!

Until next post,
Rental Girl Redwood City

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rental Girl’s Musings on Lawn Care: Mowing

Common problem: Cutting back on monthly expenses = laying off your gardener
Common side effect: Having to take care of the yard yourself...

As I begin, I have to note that I'm VERY grateful that my own lawn care is included in my rent, as I'm not really the type that would love to take care of my lawn. By the way, I think my husband's also secretly relieved that he doesn't have to spend hours more a week working on the yard. But don't tell him that I know it. :)

I have been thinking about this topic lately, wondering what we would do if we were responsible for keeping a nice green, trim lawn to match the others in our picture perfect neighborhood. What equipment would we need? And what the heck do you do with it? Is it enough to mow it once a week and leave it alone?

Mowing - I guess there's more to it
I think we all remember the neighborhood kid mowing our yard for some extra cash, something that seems to be a bit of a relic here in California or at least in our neighborhood. I was somewhat surprised to learn from some friends (but then also not) that there are still enterprising young teenagers mowing lawns in Dallas, TX. At any rate, mowing should be the simplest task in lawn care - we often relegate this task to teenagers and our husbands after all! As I began to do research I learned that it's pretty straightforward, but not as simple as I thought.

First I found that there are many different varieties of grass. Ok. And that they have to be mowed at different lengths in order to flourish. This is a bit trickier. Apparently each variety of grass should be mowed at an optimal height for that species, somewhere between 0.5"-3". In general, warm climate grasses are mowed at a shorter height and cold climate grasses at a higher height. If you cut the grass too short, it is more vulnerable to disease and water runoff which causes all that precious water run off your grass and into the street instead of being absorbed (Hmm, I think I need to have a talk with our gardener). To adjust the cutting height you'll need to make sure that you "set" the blade on your mower at the correct height, or ask someone to do this for you when you rent a mower at your local rental center.

To find the type of grass that you have I found this site helpful - you can find pictures and names of common warm and cold climate grasses. To find the optimal mowing height for each one, click here.

4 Tips for Mowing

#1 Mow early in the day, but when the grass is dry.

#2 Set the blade on your mower to the optimal height for your grass type. Don't overmow!

#3 Mow in an organized pattern, back and forth across the lawn to make sure you don't miss any spots - sorry, no zigzags! Also try alternating the direction in which you mow each week.

#4 Leave some of the grass clippings on the lawn for a free and natural fertilizer.

For more information about renting a lawn mower visit AAA Rentals Redwood City

Don't miss my next post..."it's all about the holes"