Spring Cleaning in Omaha, NE – 2019
As you may have heard, Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most famous groundhog, predicted an early spring this year. Even though it may not feel like the welcomed warmth of the next season is around the corner, the flowers will be blooming before we know it! The Groundhog’s Day prediction is certainly good news in that sense, but it also means “Spring Cleaning” will have to start early this year. No matter what the temperature is outside, the official, non-groundhog start to spring is Wednesday, March 20. Spring is the perfect time of year to take on some of the household or office projects that you’ve been avoiding.
The term “adulting” has become a popular slang term to describe coping with these sorts of daily responsibilities. One of the best ways to sanitize a work space or living area is to ensure things are organized and put away to clear all surface areas for cleaning. With so many tasks to remember for spring cleaning, from checking on your HVAC system to detail cleaning unattended parts of the house, a thorough checklist can be an invaluable tool. If someone only has the time to care for something once a year, missing it can cause twice the cobwebs, grime, and decay to build, some of which go undetected.
As the owner of 360 Clean, Teresa Hodgen began working as a cleaning professional in 1990 when she sought work that would allow her to support and spend time with her young daughter. She has since worked for homes, apartments, commercial buildings, and offered a range of custom cleaning services—from window washing to floor and carpet care. She strongly encourages spring cleaners to list priorities when cleaning their own homes, and discussed some common “missed items” she has observed over the years.
Hodgen has noticed that an aspect of cleaning that many people tend to miss is dusting in high and hard-to-reach areas, along with cleaning and disinfecting light fixtures.
“Light fixtures frequently attract insects and tend to get skipped over since they are inconvenient to reach. If left unattended, they can become a Petri dish for germs and decay. This is an example of something we would be looking for when we perform an initial consultation. We perform a walkthrough of the property and identify important cleaning needs for each client on an individual basis. Then we would set up a personalized cleaning clan to ensure you receive the exact cleaning experience you want,” explains Hodgen.
She adds that not only are food crumbs or stains on the carpet unappealing to visitors, they can also severely shorten the number of useful years for a carpet, meaning expensive replacements occur sooner.
“Routine carpet cleanings help maintain the lifespan of your carpet and help protect your investment. Our carpet cleaners leave a mildly wet carpet that dries quickly, and we use a pet and child safe formula,” offers Hodgen.
Spring is a good time to reorganize all your covers and pantries because now is the time of the year when pests start to come back as it get warmer outside. If you have a buildup of crumbs, it’s more likely to attract pests. Scrub down cabinet covers and drawers since a lot of bacteria tends to build up in there.
In addition to the insides of drawers, the fronts of kitchen cabinets are often exposed to germs, but are not frequently washed.
“Sometimes germs just drip down the front from the counters and the bacteria never gets cleaned away,” warns Hodgen. “Also, when cleaning out your refrigerator, check the seal. Many people need to clean out the coils in their refrigerators. Dust tends to build up there. Same thing with dishwashers. Everyone should check the bottom panel and try cleaning off the filter. If you don’t do that, certain dishwashers just blow more bacteria on your dishes.”
Germy surfaces and floors are not the only potential health hazards. Water treatment is vital for any home or office that wants to promote health and sanitation, and especially in the Midwest where hard water is common, it requires some extra attention. As the director of business development for Aqua Systems, Jeff Sneller is experienced in the treatment of municipal water, as well as water for residential and commercial applications.
Sneller explains three key areas that home and business owners should consider about treating their water:
- Water softeners, commonly used to condition hard water.
- Water filtration systems, which have become popular in recent years to remove undesirable elements from drinking water.
- Bottleless water coolers as an alternative to both workplace drinking fountains and plastic bottled water.
First, Sneller explained the importance of understanding hard water’s impact on all kinds of cleaning, especially in the Midwest. “The term ‘hard water’ is meant to describe the amount of minerals dissolved in water, most commonly calcium and magnesium. Hard water is inconvenient to use for all cleaning and washing because it leaves behind these minerals. There is an ongoing debate about the potential health effects of hard vs. soft water, but some research has suggested there may be a correlation between harder drinking water and cardiovascular disease. Hard water also creates a uncomfortable film, like soap scum, when washing or showering. The lifespan of a water softener can vary, and while 10 years is a good estimate, water softeners that are used frequently, for large families for example, can have a shorter lifespan. Spring cleaning is a good opportunity to check to ensure your water softener is not past its lifespan.”
Beyond the inconvenience created by hard minerals, germs and contamination can also affect untreated water. Sneller adds that “reverse osmosis systems use pressure to force water through a series of filters, leaving contaminants behind. This is a popular choice to prevent water with a funny odor, taste, or color.”
Traditional public water fountains are frequently disliked by customers and guests. Who knows how many people have left their saliva on one? Sneller encourages business owners to consider a bottleless water cooler as a popular alternative.
“A bottleless water cooler has none of these sanitation problems. Furthermore, we use the same micro filtration process used to make bottled water. At Aqua Systems, our customers are the motivation to keep producing the best product offering we can. From making our SmartChoice water softeners and PureChoice reverse osmosis systems right here in the U.S.A., to a 90-day money back guarantee, we understand quality. We are working to improve the quality of drinking water using a variety of methods across eastern and central Nebraska,” promises Sneller.
Water treatment isn’t the only important sanitary consideration. Because so many homes in the Nebraska area are not connected to city sewer systems, understanding care and treatment of waste disposal systems is a must. “If your home or business is on a property with a septic tank, spring is a great season to consider having it pumped.
Pumping of your septic tank should be on your to-do list once every three to five years if you have an average sized tank (1,500 gallons) with a family size of about three to five people,” explains Aimee Hoffman, office manager for Midland Pumping Service “If there are more people than that using the system on a regular basis (and especially if they are kids as they tend to put more solids into the tank), then we suggest having the tank pumped as often as every two to three years. Putting off this essential home maintenance item can lead to costly and inconvenient septic system back ups…it is always favorable to be proactive on this measure!” she insists.
Spring is an ideal time to schedule a pump not only because it is convenient for outdoor work but also because of the rainy season: “Spring or early summer is a favorable time to pump your septic tank,” recommends Hoffman. “The combination of spring rains and snow melt add extra water to your system and emptying the tank can help prevent the drain field from becoming over saturated. This will also allow plenty of time for bacteria that are necessary for breaking down the waste in the tank to re-establish prior to the next winter,” she adds.
Some businesses have special requirements, which are common not only for restaurants but are often required by regulations for any large kitchen.
“If you are a business owner or manager and there is a grease trap connected to the plumbing of your restaurant or commercial kitchen (almost all do as they are generally required by city code), now is the time to give it some attention! Many restaurant owners/operators are not even aware that they have a grease trap or that it needs service, ideally every one to three months. Failure to regularly have a grease trap pumped, as well as regular flushing of the lines connected to it, will almost certainly result in unwanted and expensive plumbing problems at some point,” advises Hoffman.
Having magnets or reminders on calendars or smart devices can help property owners ensure they avoid costly damage to these systems.
“People often treat their septic tanks and grease traps as “out of sight, out of mind,” says Hoffman. “When a septic tank is neglected year after year, solids can become extremely difficult to remove from the tank with pumping alone. Over time, this can cause irreversible damage to the entire system. Neglecting a grease trap can have similar effects. Plumbing back up inside of a home or business is not only extremely costly and stressful, but it can be a health hazard,” she urges.
However, Hoffman thinks property owners don’t need to fear expensive damage to these systems so long as they have the right outlook. “Be proactive instead of reactive! You will never regret staying ahead of home and business maintenance to save yourself time and money in the long run,” she recommends.
Besides water treatment and plumbing considerations, a true healthy home has top-notch air quality. As the season changes to spring and then summer, consider humidity and preventing mold growth in warm, damp, dark places. For humidity control, when you wake up in the morning and your nose is bleeding, your wood floors are squeaking, or there is static on your clothes, those are effect of humidity. Humidity fluctuates depending on the temperature outside. In the winter, it’s good to have a humidifier running in the house. In the summer time, shining UV light in places where mold is likely to grow is advised.
Other common things that can radically affect a home’s comfort and sanitation include:
Air filters: Changing filters is huge. In the summer, furnaces turn into an air handler. It’s dispersing air through the house. While it is often recommended to change air filters once every six to 12 months, homes with multiple occupants, and especially homes with any pet will require far more frequent replacements for air filters. For families with more than one pet or where someone suffers from allergies, changing the filter once per month is recommended.
Request an air duct cleaning every few years: It’s not going to be a DIY project, but duct cleaning is important. If you start restricting air flow, getting any junk in the ducts can cause air quality problems, especially if you own animals.
Ensure that evaporator coils are able to drain downhill. When the air conditioner is running, it’s going to create a lot of condensation. You need to ensure that it’s not getting clogged.
Examining your home’s water, air filters, heating, and cooling systems is important to ensure none of these machines have reached the end of their lifetimes, but examining your walls and exterior can help you spot a variety of problems as well, some of which add expenses. Look for unsightly wear on paint, damage or scratches from branches, and cracks near doors and window linings, which would allow hot air to escape your house during the winter or creep in during the summer.
As a partner and general manager for Gerst Painting, Casey Hansen is experienced in how paint can not only provide an aesthetic, decorative quality to homes and businesses, he is also experienced in how it can help preserve a building from the elements, especially wooden structures like fences and decks. “When unprotected wood is exposed to water, it develops mold and begins to rot. Not only is this unappealing, it can be dangerous if the integrity of the wood is compromised. Stains and paints are used to waterproof wood and protect it from sun damage and whatever debris may collect on it,” explains Hansen.
Generally speaking, vertical surfaces are usually painted, while horizontal surfaces are usually stained. “Think about if this is a high traffic area. Are kids going to be running around this surface a lot? Staining and sealing is a good option for those areas because it needs to be durable. However, because staining requires maintenance every two to three years, painting is a beautiful, longer-term solution for vertical fences and walls,” adds Hansen.
In addition to exterior surfaces, professional painting or wallpapering can provide an appealing, welcoming aesthetic to a home or business’ interior space. Hansen is proud of Gerst’s record of service for interior as well as exterior jobs. “We’ve built a trusted reputation for our craftsmanship since 1977. We perform a follow-up evaluation with our customers to ensure they are satisfied, and back up our quality work with a one-year, written guarantee,” emphasizes Hansen.
Whether or not you believe in the Groundhog’s Day prediction of an early spring, warmer spring weather will come sooner or later, and the longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures demonstrate why spring cleaning is such a widely accepted tradition. It’s the most practical time of the year for this work, especially for businesses and busy home owners who want to hire a professional service that fits with their schedule. Omaha businesses offer a range of services which target different aspects of a home or business, from cleanliness and sanitation, to expertise on the machines that maintain our water and air systems, to preserving building materials from rust, mold, and the elements. If you are unsure where to begin with your own spring cleaning regimen, a conversation with one of these local experts would be a good place to start.