Hoarding Cleanup Services

A hoarder has difficulty discarding or parting with their possessions. Commonly hoarded items include books, boxes, newspapers, magazines, clothing and food. A hoarder may suffer severe anxiety when attempting to discard or donate the items, increasing the odds of excessive accumulation. As items accumulate, the hoarder experiences greater difficulty in organizing these possessions. The problem escalates to the point that living space is compromised and quality of life is severely diminished. The hoarder will live with broken appliances and systems because they are too embarrassed to allow a repair service into their home. Quality of life is severely affected, and the destructive cycle continues.  Family members might become angry, resentful or depressed. Separation/divorce, eviction and loss of child custody can be the direct result of this situation. 

The dangers caused by hoarding can also cause serious problems if emergency responders need to access the property. Many fire departments are experiencing serious fires, injuries and deaths as a direct result of hoarding. Blocked exits prevent escape from or entry into the home. The piles of possessions can be trip hazards, injuries from falling objects can be more prevalent, and excessive fire loading can lead to collapse. 

As a restoration and remediation company with industry-approved certificates, Talon can assist with these problems. Whether you need help cleaning one room or an entire house, Talon is here to support you and your family every step of the way. In addition to providing assistance with cleaning projects, we can also provide expert service in the following areas:

·       Removing hazardous waste

·       Discarding non-salvageable furniture/contents

·       Cleaning furniture/contents

·       Remediating mold

·       Removing and/or replacing damaged flooring

The effects of hoarding situations can touch and affect so many aspects of family life and relationships that addressing the situation directly and swiftly can be critical. If you’re in need of any assistance with a hoarding or home clear-out situation, let us help you today.

Protect Your Home in Travel Season

It’s that time of year when many people spend their winters in a warmer climate.  Today’s electronic gadgets allow homeowners to “protect” their homes more easily by controlling lighting, security and thermostats remotely. Protecting your home from electrical mishaps, plumbing disasters, and fires while you’re gone is also important. Before you leave:

  • Unplug anything possible to avoid electrical problems – washing machine, computer, etc.
  • Ensure that all windows and doors are locked, including those leading into your garage.
  • Turn off the internal water valve.  It’s not unusual for homeowners to return to broken pipes, etc.
  • If possible, install an automatic thermostat or one that can be controlled remotely. 
  • Arrange to have your sidewalks shoveled and driveway plowed during your absence to make your home look more lived in during your absence.  You might ask a neighbor to occasionally park their vehicle in your driveway.

Enjoy your time away & arrive home to a well-protected home.

Hunkering Down for Winter

With freezing temperatures looming on the horizon, now is the perfect time to knock out some preventative winter home maintenance.

Here's a quick checklist of things you can do to keep your home in great shape as winter settles in:

  • Remove garden hoses from outside faucets
  • Clean rain gutters after all leaves have fallen
  • Cut away tree branches that could fall on your house during a storm
  • Wrap pipes in unheated locations with foam insulation, pipe wrap or heat tape
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic
  • Close outside vents to your house
  • Check your carbon monoxide and smoke detector
  • Have your fire extinguishers inspected and recharged
  • Have your furnace inspected and cleaned by a professional
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to clockwise
  • Have your snow equipment service

Safety First: CO Poisoning

It’s that time of year when we reach for the “heat” button on our thermostats.  Faulty heating appliances, gas ranges or fireplaces can cause carbon monoxide (CO) build-up indoors and lead to poisoning of both the people and animals who breathe it.  CO cannot be seen, tasted, nor smelled.  Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain and/or irritability. 

To protect your family, install battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors.  Have your heating system, other gas/oil/coal burning appliances, and chimney cleaned and serviced every year. 

Remember, if your CO alarm does sound, evacuate your home immediately and call 911.  

Home Maintenance Tips: Window Seals & Leaks

Windows require maintenance.  Broken or leaking window seals lead to drafty windows and excessive energy lost and cost.  If you notice excessive moisture on window glass during the colder months, this is a sign of heat loss.  The humidity will cause water to pool and collect on windowsills which can lead to further damage.  If you want to test windows for leaks, burn an incense stick near the joints and connections.  You have an air leak if the smoke flickers.

The warm summer temperatures can cause exterior caulk to dry out and lead to gaps and cracks.  Prior to applying new caulk, remove as much of the old caulk as possible.  Be sure to caulk the window where it meets the exterior siding.  If wood trim surrounds the window, we recommend a high-grade polyurethane caulk to seal gaps between the trim and the siding and between the trim and the window. 

Another maintenance requirement is to replace the window glazing.  If a pane of glass rattles when tapped, you should replace the putty to obtain a better seal.  You should also remove any hardened glazing that flakes away easily and then clean the surface prior to applying the glazing.

Go With the Flow: Attic Ventilation

Attic ventilation is a must in the Midwest. Warm, moist air that escapes from the actual living space in your home can condense on the underside of roof sheathing, leading to rot or mold. Ice dams begin to form when warm attic air melts the snow from beneath and creates runoff that refreezes on the colder eave. Warm air that escapes your living space also carries moisture that will condense on rafters or roof sheathing. If you notice dampness or frost in your attic during winter months, you need better ventilation. 

Soffit vents are an excellent way to increase airflow. Outside air enters the attic at the roof’s lowest point creating a more constant and upward circulation of air. It is important to check that insulation is not blocking the soffit vents. Adding a simple ventilation baffle will help ensure that the vents remain open by forming channels that hold insulation at bay and direct incoming air upward.

Roof vents also help to prevent moisture damage in colder climates. Place roof vents near the roof’s peak for optimal results.

Bathroom vent fans must be vented to the outside. If vented into your attic, the excess moisture will cause condensation on the roof members, insulation and eventually lead to mold.

Home Maintenance Tips: Water Shut-Off Valves

Do you know where the main water shut-off valve is located in your residence?  Knowing where to find this valve could save you a lot of water, money and damage to your property.  The main shut-off valve is located either inside or outside of your house.  Turning the valve off will completely stop your water supply, which could be necessary in the instance of burst pipe, flooding toilet, or other common household problem. A word of caution – do not shut off your water in the colder winter months unless absolutely necessary, as stopped water flow could cause your water meter or pipes to freeze.  

Most homes are equipped with individual emergency shutoff valves at sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, washing machines and water heaters.  You should locate the valves for tubs and showers prior to actually needing to use them, as they are frequently installed behind wood or plastic access panels or in adjoining closets or hallways.  Know how to shut off these valves prior to an emergency.

You should test your shut-off valves at least once each year, as they are prone to rust and mineral damage.  Making sure the valve mechanism can open and close easily and hasn't dried out (in the case of plastic valves) or rusted open will save you from considerable headaches if and when a water emergency happens. Getting familiar with your water shut-off valves is one of the easiest things you can do as a homeowner, and knowing where to find them and ensuring they function properly will pay dividends. 

Exterior Home Maintenance: Foundations

We've always been told that the key to a sturdy home is a solid foundation, so what can you do to make sure this critical area is properly maintained? While we can't do too much to change the structural integrity of our foundations, we can focus on grading and landscaping around the perimeter of our homes to help prevent issues with termites, water seepage, and air flow.

Here are some tips to maximize the benefit of your home's foundation:

  1. Termites don't like exposed or open areas, so creating some distance between the ground level and an exterior wall will help prevent termite entry.
  2. Leaving your foundation slightly exposed and grading your landscaping away from your home will help prevent water from settling around the foundation.
  3. Six inches of foundation should be exposed for brick or cement exteriors, and eight inches for wood exteriors.
  4. Feel free to plant gardens around your home that hide the exposed foundation, but leave one foot of space from full growth to your home. This allows air to flow between the garden and your home, which can also help prevent termites.

Exterior Home Maintenance: Gutters

In our Exterior Home Maintenance blog series we'll take a look at several common problem areas in your home and pass along a few tips and tricks to troubleshoot issues and keep your home looking great!

Let's start with an easy one to neglect: gutters. Gutters tend to suffer from the "out of sight, out of mind" dilemma until you're faced with a major blockage or gutter failure. Nobody likes a major gutter problem, so here are a couple pointers to keep in mind to help ensure your gutters stay blockage free and carry water away from your home (rather than directing it into your basement):

  1. Clean and inspect your gutters twice a year. This is an easy thing to forget, but 10 minutes of leaf cleaning or inspection can go a long way to make sure small problems don't become big ones. 
  2. Check for any leaks along the gutter line. Ensuring proper flow along the length of the gutter will help prevent wood rot and paint failure at fascia boards and other areas of house.
  3. Check your downspouts to ensure they are not leaking and that the water flow is directed away from the structure’s foundation.  Leaking or clogged downspouts can allow water to “flood” areas prone to drainage problems.
  4. Downspouts should have extensions which lead several feet away from the house.  If your downspouts are connected directly to an outside drain pipe leading water into the basement wall / footing drain system, correct this problem immediately.

There you have it, four quick tips to help you keep your gutters free and clear and water away from your house. Check back soon for more exterior home maintenance tips!

Are You Ready For Spring Cleaning?

Spring is just around the corner! It’s time to create a checklist of exterior home repairs and projects.  

  • One that should be at the top of your list and completed as soon as weather permits is to check all structures for loose or leaky gutters which can lead to water in the basement or crawl space due to improper drainage. Check the downspouts to ensure they are draining away from the foundation and are free of debris.

  • Brick and/or block areas should be checked for mortar that may be cracked or crumbling. Scrape away any loose mortar and replace it with new mortar to prevent water from penetrating these areas.

  • Freeze damage can occur to outside hose faucets. A quick check may prevent a lot of damage. Turn on the water at the outside faucet and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If the flow of water can be stopped, the pipe inside the structure may be damaged and need to be replaced.  

  • Exposed wood can be easily damaged by rain. Check the wood trim around windows, door, railings and deck. Make these repairs immediately!  

  • Your roof may have suffered damage due to the winter weather. Inspect your roof or hire a professional to complete the inspection. Check for shingles that have come loose or are broken. These inefficiencies can allow your roof to leak and water to puddle.  

  • It is not uncommon to see yard flooding when the spring rains arrive. The key is to prevent foundation flooding and damage by filling in the low areas in the yard or next to the foundation with compacted soil.

Staying on top of preventative maintenance like this can help keep your home looking great year after year, and also help you save money by avoiding costly large-scale repairs. It takes a little bit of work, but a little spring cleaning goes a long way!


Mulching Tips

Spring has arrived and homeowners are eager to spruce up their lawns.  Everywhere you look, mulch is being spread on landscaping beds, including those around the perimeter of homes.  Both functional and decorative, mulch is an essential component of low-maintenance landscapes.  But homeowners beware . . . stacking mulch too high against your foundation can lead to serious problems such as insect and water intrusion.  Moisture can soak into your house and lead to mold damage.  Always keep the mulch level below the siding.

Gutters & Downspouts

Spring is here and with it will come warmer temperatures.  This is the perfect time to check your gutters for any debris that may have been deposited during the winter months.   Gutters are designed to carry water away from a structure and into downspouts. 

Don’t forget to check the downspouts, especially at ground level.  Downspouts will effectively direct water away from the foundation of a structure, if installed correctly and clear of any type of blockage.  When water is drained too close to a structure’s foundation, your risk of mold near floorboards or in the basement can increase dramatically.

A gutter and downspout system is a long-term investment in your home or building’s infrastructure.  Proper care and maintenance can lead to a better life expectancy of the system and prevent possible structure damage.  

Home Spotlight: Bathroom Vent Fans

A word of precaution . . . if your bathroom vent fan(s) are vented into your attic, we recommend that you correct the problem now before you encounter bigger problems.  Excessive moisture will cause condensation on the roof joists and insulation which can lead to mold.  Even if your attic is vented, it is never okay to vent directly into it. 

Dryer Fire Prevention

Clothes dryers are a leading cause of fires in the home, accounting for an average of 10 deaths and 310 injuries and more than $84.4 million in property damage annually (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates).   A little preventative maintenance can keep your dryer in good working order. 

- The easiest and most important maintenance step is to clean the lint trap after each use.  Build-up in the screen or other areas can cause your dryer to perform poorly, operate at elevated temperatures and possibly overheat.

-Equally as important is to ensure that the venting and ducting materials are made of rigid or flexible metal.

-Periodically hire a professional to clean the interior of the dryer and venting system.  Extended drying times often signal obstructed airflow.

-Ensure that anything put in your dryer is approved and safe to place in a dryer.  When in doubt, check the item’s washing instructions or consult the manufacturer’s website.  Examples of such items are a foam-backed rug or clothing/fabric which might be splashed with flammable substances such as dry-cleaning solvents, spot removers, etc.

Don't Forget Your Outside Faucets!

It’s time to remove any garden hose that is still attached to an outdoor faucet.  Freezing temperatures will trap water inside the faucet, causing pipe breaks inside the faucet.  You should also drain the water from the outdoor faucet pipe following these simple steps:

- Shut off the water supply to the faucet using the shut-off valve for the outdoor faucet.

- Turn on the outdoor faucet after the shut-off valve has been turned off.

- Allow all water to drain out of the faucet, then shut it off.

- Wrap the faucet tightly with some type of insulation material then cover with plastic and secure with string or wire.