Preventing Flooring Water Damage From Your Christmas Tree

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Nothing quite says Christmas like the smell of baking, holiday songs on the radio and of course, the look and smell of a real live Christmas tree. You may be headed out to pick one up soon (if you haven’t already) but there are some things to keep in mind.

Recently we discussed the notion of Christmas tree mould but today we thought we would share from our long experience going in and out of Kitchener/Waterloo homes and offer some tips and tricks for helping prevent the aesthetic damage that a live Christmas tree can do to your home.

Flooring Issues

The most harm from live Christmas trees that we encounter is that they can quite easily damage the floor, whether that floor is carpeted or hardwood. It doesn’t have to be that way though, as long as you take some precautions to protect your precious hardwood floors from Yuletide damage. Here is how that is easily done:

Before you bring the tree inside your home fold an old blanket into quarters and place it where you intend to put the tree in the room. Next cut or fold a plastic tablecloth and place it over the blanket. Finally add the Christmas tree stand and then everything will be ready for when you have picked that perfect tree. At this time you should also place an old – or inexpensive- bathmat near the door you will be bringing the tree inside through. But more about that later..

Before you bring your Christmas tree into the house shake it – very gently – even if it is covered in netting as many live trees are. This will loosen any very loose needles so that they are not trekked all across your hardwood floors where they could be trodden on and cause scratching.

Now it’s time for that bath mat. Place the base of your Christmas tree on the mat and then slide your tree across the hardwood floor. Fewer needles will fall and you won’t run the risk of dropping it.

Once you have your tree in its base use a pitcher to fill the base with water (carefully) and then you can cover up those hardwood floor protecting blankets and tablecloths with a nice tree skirt.

When all the festivities are over and it’s time for the tree to go the way you have set it up should make it super easy to, after you have drained all the water out, drag the entire setup (tree and stand) on the sheet and tablecloth to the door.

The Tree Sap Issue

With the best will in the world sometimes you just can’t help but get a little tree sap on the floor when a live Christmas tree is involved.

Christmas tree sap, if it gets onto the carpet, or your nice hardwood floor, can seem like it is impossible to remove. That is not the case though, as long as you deal with the stain as quickly as possible (yes it may be days before you notice it) and employ one of the following cleaning methods:

Alcohol CARPET ONLY Not the Christmas cheer variety of course , but clear rubbing alcohol. Before using this method, it is important to test an inconspicuous area of the carpeting to make sure that the alcohol will not discolor the carpet fibers. If you determine it is safe to proceed take a clean cloth dampened with alcohol and blot it gently over the sap stain, then using a second dry cloth blot up the sap that has been loosened by the alcohol before it dries.

Dry Cleaning Solvent CARPET ONLY The method for using dry cleaning solvent to remove sap stains is much the same as that for using alcohol. The same precautionary test should also be employed. The advantage that dry cleaning solvent has over alcohol is that it is far more effective at removing “set in” sap stains, that perhaps you did not notice until you took the tree down.

Dishwashing Liquid CARPET OR HARDWOOD Apply a very small amount of a clear colored liquid dishwashing detergent to the sap stain and scrub sap very gently with a clean cloth moistened with warm water. Continue, using clean rags, until both the sap and the soap have been removed. Removing the soap is every bit as important as removing the sap as if it is left on most carpets it will literally become a dirt magnet. If the stain affected hardwood flooring make sure you blot the area completely dry to prevent water stains.

We have also heard some folks suggest using mayonnaise to remove Christmas tree sap from carpet but this is not a method we would recommend. If even the tiniest amount of the stuff is left on the carpet the mildew and mould that is likely to form will be a far worse problem than a tree sap stain!

‘Damp Sickness’; Is Your Basement a Victim?

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The fact is that most basements share a common problem, they suffer from ‘damp sickness’. This can be a real problem, especially if you are considering turning that extra space into brand new living space. But exactly why are so many basements damp?

Finding the Moisture Source

The water that can lead to a damp basement comes from a number of different sources. Rainfall, the melting snow and simple groundwater can all cause the kind of excess moisture that leads to basement mold and mildew that can ruin floors, walls and even the structural framing. It can in fact even be dangerous to your health.

One common way that dampness sets in is when water slowly begins to seep in through the roof , the walls and even the foundation itself. Dampness can also be the result of condensation building up on basement walls, floors and items stored in the area.

There is some good news though. Most basement damp problems can be solved, or at least significantly decreased fairly easily, making the space far more ‘livable’ and preventing potentially disastrous serious water damage from occurring.

Fixing the Problem

Cleaning the gutters all around your home can be one easy way to decrease water seepage into your basement. Installing an extension that draws the water away from the foundation can be a real help as well, although a far more expensive solution!

If you do not have a good ventilation system installed in the bathrooms of your home, adding one would be a great investment. This draws much of the general moisture in the house out, making for cleaner, fresher air all around.

A dehumidifier can help solve many of the damp problems in a basement. If there is so much moisture in the air though that you need to run it constantly connect its collection reservoir to an external drain source, as otherwise the unit will shut off when it is full.

Insulating the damp away

Adequately insulating areas where dampness can creep in can be a great help as well. Such areas include all the pipe and duct work in your basement area.Checking the whole foundation for cracks and sealing them adequately can also greatly alleviate any water seepage into your basement. These can be present even if you consider your basement ‘finished.”

The Last Resort

If all else fails, you may want to consider installing a sump pump, especially if you have an ongoing problem with a lot of water coming in during rain storms or after a snowfall. This will not solve the damp problem itself, but it will get rid of the immediate problem so that you can begin implementing some of the other measures mentioned in this article.

A damp basement can be a real headache for homeowners, but it is a problem that can be overcome with a few corrective measures and a little careful vigilance.

Christmas Tree Mould? Fact or Fiction

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Everyone loves to decorate their homes for the holidays and the Christmas tree has been a huge part of those celebrations for over 200 years in Canada, a tradition brought over by German immigrants to North America who had been decorating live trees in their homes for Christmas since the mid 15th century.

These days although there are a myriad of artificial Christmas tree options available for many still nothing beats a live Christmas tree. However, in recent years the idea of ‘Christmas tree mould’ has been put forward as a reason to think twice before bringing a cut tree into your home for the holidays. But is this a real thing or just a misinformed myth.

The Facts Behind ‘Christmas Tree Mould’

A number of reputable studies have indeed found that there is a marked increase in sinus problems and asthma attacks over the 2 weeks plus that Christmas trees are commonly in the home and there are reasonable proofs that yes, live Christmas trees may harbour mould that those sensitive to such things may have problems with.

The main issue seems to be with the way Christmas trees are harvested and then how long they stay in the home and under what circumstances. Once a tree is cut down at the Christmas tree farm it begins to die, and the decay begins within a couple of days. You usually can’t see any decay at this stage but it’s there and mould can indeed come along with it. Add to that the fact that most reasonably sized Christmas trees are at least six years old – and will have developed the usual mould that a tree will when growing outdoors – then there may be a problem.

Does this mean then you should forgo that trip to the Christmas tree farm this year and settle for an artificial alternative instead? Not necessarily, especially if you take a few basic precautions:

Shorten the Timeline

If you are worried that someone in your home may have a reaction to possible mould or mildew allergens from a Christmas tree keeping it in the home for a shorter time can be very helpful. In reality the old traditions only called for a tree to be in the home during Christmas week itself, and by doing things the old fashioned way you’ll still have a beautiful tree for the most important parts of the Christmas celebrations but fewer runny noses and watery eyes!

Cut Your Own

As previously mentioned, Christmas trees begin to die off and decay as soon as they are cut. If you opt to cut your own tree instead of buying a pre cut versions you will be adding a few days (at least) to it’s useful display life and such a trip is a lot of fun anyway, especially if you make it a family affair.

Cleaner Air is Key

Cleaner air is another key to combating the possible effects of Christmas tree mould. Run an air purifier in the same room as the live tree, in order to reduce your mould exposure and lessen the chance that any more will develop.