Self Venting Bathroom Fans – The Answer to Your Damp Bathroom Problems?

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Damp and bathrooms are inextricably linked. And if a bathroom is allowed to remain damp it quickly becomes a breeding ground for mould, mildew and slow water damage that can cause all kinds of problems, some of them rather serious, both for the health of your home and you and your family. Therefore a bathroom vent fan is essential, as it provides a first line defense against such things.

All bathroom exhaust fans need to be vented to the outside in some way, and in some bathrooms that may be rather hard, leading homeowners to look for self venting fan options. But is there really such a thing? Well, the answer is yes and no. What people usually mean when they use the term is that the fan will not need additional duct work to be installed in order for it to work efficiently and transfer moist air from the bathroom outside where it belongs.

Where Would You Install a Self Venting Bathroom Fan?

A bathroom fan that is considered to be self venting has to be mounted on a wall in the space that connects to the outside. Often this is the only choice a homeowner has if they are installing a fan in a downstairs bathroom, as to add duct work up to the attic would simply be too complicated and too expensive.

In order to install a bathroom fan that vents through the wall an opening has to be created and that opening needs to fit the fan as closely as possible to avoid leakage once the fan is installed. For this very important reason it is best that most homeowners choose to have a professional install a self venting fan rather than trying to do it themselves.

How Does a Self Venting Fan Work?

A self venting fan extracts moist air from a bathroom in the same way as a roof vented, ceiling mounted fan can. Instead of drawing the air upwards though it draws it out and then it is expelled outside without having to pass through any other pipe or duct work which can often lead to more efficient operation.

How Much Does a Self Venting Fan Cost Compared to Other Options?

How much a self venting bathroom fan is really going to cost you depends on more than just the sticker price in the local home store. In fact in very basic terms self venting fans are relatively inexpensive and you can certainly pick up a very good one for under $200.

The project gets a little more expensive when you have to start figuring out how much the fan is actually going to cost to install. That is where some people do start to consider trying to install the fan themselves to save some money.

The difficulty there is that it is so important that a bathroom exhaust fan be properly installed in order for it to function. If a bathroom exhaust fan leaks any of the moist air back into the bathroom then it is not doing its job and over time that can be a real problem.

It does not take a lot of moisture for damp, mold and mildew to build up in a room like the average bathroom, which is the main reason for installing an exhaust fan in the first place! If a fan is improperly installed and this happens eventually the structure of the home itself can be damaged. If you truly feel comfortable installing a self vented bathroom fan yourself go ahead, but if not it really is better to turn to a professional for help.

Bring On the Bling – The Most Expensive Bathroom Accessories Money Can Buy

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These days a bathroom is more than just a place to wash up. Most people put as much thought into their bathroom decor as they do to the decor in any other room in the house. Many modern bathrooms, even smaller ones, are more like mini spas than they are a simple water closet!

To capitalize on this trend a number of luxury goods manufacturers have entered the bathroom accessories market. Here are just a few examples of the most expensive and luxurious bathroom accessories that money can buy:

Versace Bathroom Accessories

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The Versace Home Collection offers bathroom accessories that are modeled after the kind of art deco pieces you would have found in truly five star hotels back in the 1920s. All of the pieces, everything from a toilet roll holder to a toothbrush holder are 24 carat gold plated and are as visually stunning as everything else that Versace produces.

Ondine Krystal ELS Chrome Shower-head

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If you are a fan of bling bling then this shower-head may be just what you have always wanted. The 24 carat gold plated faucet is covered in Swarovski crystals and the shower-head is illuminated, changing color as you shower! It’s claimed that this action – chromatherapy – has all kinds of positive effects on your well-being too.

Oz Diamond Edition Faucet

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Not everyone has a thing for gold, for many diamonds are a girl’s best friend (or a guy come to that matter) For these people the Oz Diamond Edition Faucet is perfect. Created by an architect, Nilo Gioacchini, the faucet itself is platinum plated and features an astonishing 282 real diamonds running along the length of the tap!

Pietra Firma Tiles

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If you can afford gold plated toilet roll holders and diamond covered faucets then why stop there? Pietra Firma offer a line of jewel encrusted tiles – both for the floor and the walls – that can satisfy even the most expensive tastes. Each tile boasts over 1000 diamonds and also features mother of pearl, real abalone shell and black onyx. They cost around $1million per square meter so the one thing you could be sure of is that you would end up with one of the most expensive bathrooms in the world!

4 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Water Damage

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When a pipe bursts, a drain backs up, or a flood occurs in your home, it can be hard to see past the mess and a million questions will run through your mind.

What should I do now?

Is all of our stuff ruined for good?

And then maybe the most important question of all: Will my homeowner’s insurance cover the damage?

There’s no two ways about it. Water damage is extremely stressful, but the more you know about it, the better you’ll be able to decide how to address it if it happens to you. Here are four very important things that every homeowner needs to know about water damage.

Not all water damage is always covered by your insurance

Want to do something proactive right now? Look over your home owners insurance policy and familiarize yourself with any exclusions to your water damage coverage. Almost all policies cover sudden damage – damage from a really bad storm or from an overflowing washing machine – but sometimes water damage that happens because you didn’t maintain the property may be excluded. Which means if you have been putting off fixing that little leak it’s time to get it taken care of right now…

Once water damage has happened, the clock is ticking

When it comes to water damage you simply don’t have the luxury of scheduling a convenient time to start the cleanup. Secondary damage from mould growth can begin as little as 24-48 hours. You see, in every day life mould spores are everywhere, but they need moisture and a nutrient source to grow. And that is exactly what your wet carpet or drywall offers them in abundance and they take advantage very, very quickly.

To prevent mould growth, you will need to get your property completely dry again very quickly. To do this, you’ll need to contact a company that specializes in water damage restoration to come in asap.

Your insurance company needs to know right away

Try to call your insurance company right away when you discover water damage so that you can ‘get the ball rolling’ as soon as possible. When you do, your insurance company may direct you to a water damage restoration company that they have worked with in the past. Keep in mind though that you do not have to call the company that they recommend. You have the freedom to choose any reputable restoration specialist to work with you to restore your home.

The pollution level of the water is important

In our industry, water damage is categorized as one of three levels by how polluted the water source was that caused the damage.

Category 1: Water from a clean water source, like a fresh water line for a dishwasher. This water will not cause illness or any ill effects.

Category 2: Water that may cause illness through contact. It may have bacteria in it,

Category 3: Water that is highly contaminated. Contact can cause severe illness or death. Think sewage backup, an overflowing toilet, or storm waters.

In the case of any water damage incident, even though water may start out as Category 1, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Any contamination that the water touches, such as dirty carpeting or soil from the ground, can change the water damage Category to 2 or even Category 3. And since standing breeds bacteria, the longer the water is around, the worse the contamination of your property. Just another very important reason that you will need to take action right away.

Essential Home Fire Prevention Steps to Implement Today

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A home fire is not something that any homeowner ever wants to think might happen to them, so all too often they prefer not to think about it at all. Much that kind of head in the sand attitude can’t change the basic fact that a fire can strike any home at any time. Recent research also actually suggests that newer, modern homes may be at greater risk, mainly due to an abundance of synthetic materials — in everything from carpet backing to upholstery stuffing being present in most of them. And the trend towards open plan rooms may help some fires spread more quickly too.

While completely fireproofing a home is simply not possible there are some common sense steps that can – and should – be taken by every homeowner to minimize the risk of fire. Here are some of the most essential fire prevention steps that you can begin implementing today :

Make Sure Fire Extinguishers Are in Place and Working

This one is no-brainer and yet something that many homeowners overlook. Your home needs fire extinguishers and they need to work. To help make your home as safe as possible, you should have one fire extinguisher in an easy-to-grab spot on every floor. At the very least, make sure that you have one in the kitchen, where fires are most likely to start, and one in the garage, where flammable materials like oil and gas are kept. And make sure that they are in good working order and that every member of the household knows how to use it.

Keep Smoke Alarms in Working Order

Many newer homes have (often to comply with local building regulations) smoke alarms hardwired in. But that does not mean that they work. Whether your home has hardwired or battery operated smoke alarms they need to be tested at least twice a year. Here’s an idea; when you change the clocks, test your smoke alarms. It takes five minutes but may save your life some day.

In terms of early warnings of fire, a smoke detector alarm is the most critical tool. Laws vary by state, but most newly constructed homes (generally built after 1994) must have hard-wired smoke detectors throughout (battery-operated detectors are permissible for older homes). If you have questions, double-check with your builder or city fire marshal.

Get Your Wiring Checked

Whether your home is very old, has been recently renovated, or is new construction, it’s never a bad idea to hire a licensed electrician to check all wiring and outlets just to make sure there’s no chance of overload or sparking. That’s not all they should be on the lookout for though. Basic wear and tear and even things like rodent chewed wiring can lead to disaster and so make sure that the inspection you order is an extensive one.

Maintain Your Fireplace Meticulously

Fireplaces are gorgeous, wonderful additions to the home but if they are incorrectly or haphazardly maintained they can be deadly too. In a wood burning fireplace wood creates creosote, which over time builds on the lining of the chimney and can become a fire hazard. Get into the habit of scheduling an annual appointment for a chimney cleaning and in between keep the grates etc. as clean and debris free as possible as well.

Don’t assume you’re safer with a gas fireplace, though. Gas fireplaces are not free from hazards: Those glass coverings can heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and pose a major burn risk for toddlers or pets. If you decide to go with gas, make sure to invest in a screen barrier to go on the outside of the glass. It should also be subject to an annual professional inspection as well.

Inspect Your Dryer

A simple clothes dryer can be quite the fire hazard as well. Make sure that the attached vent is clean and connected before every use and that goes for the lint trap too, as it is a clogged lint trap that leads to many of the dryer related fires that damage homes every year.

Go Natural Whenever You Can

Older homes that were constructed decades ago boast many natural materials that newer homes do not; wood, metals, plant fibers and cottons. Modern homes contain a lot more plastic and synthetic materials and these do burn more readily and at a higher temperature than natural materials. While it’s not practical, possible, or even sensible to replace all of the potentially flammable building materials in your home, you can choose your decor and furniture — and that can make a big difference in a fire.

If possible, try to limit the amount of plastic and synthetic fibers you bring into your home by purchasing wood furniture, cotton drapes and shower curtains, and carpets that meet proper flammability guidelines.

Understanding Bathroom Faucet Choices and The Impact of Poor Installation

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Although bathroom faucets may seem that they are rather inconsequential in the whole scheme of things, especially during a bathroom remodel, that is actually a long way from the truth. The faucets you chose can actually seriously impact the overall look and function of your bathroom and they should always be chosen with as much care as you would a “bigger ticket” item like a new shower or floor.

There are literally hundreds of bathroom faucet styles and models to choose from but they all fall into one of several basic categories.

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Wide Set – What is considered to be a wide set faucet is one that has separate handles for hot and cold water that are mounted either side of a central spout. The three elements are more spaced out than some other bathroom faucet options making them a great choice for a larger bathroom sink.

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Center Set and Mini Spread – These are smaller versions of a wide set faucet and are best used with a smaller sink to impart a similar sense of easy elegance.

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Single Hole – These are the simplest of bathroom faucets, consisting of a single mixing handle attached to the water spout. However these can also be some of the most visually striking options and great for adding that extra “something” to a rather plain bathroom sink.

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Basin Faucets – In this set up hot and cold water handles are set apart at opposite sides of a sink. Basin faucets are often a great choice for a bathroom with a vintage theme.

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Wall Mounted – The one word that would describe wall mounted faucets is dramatic. The “waterfall” effect can change the whole look of the bathroom and as they are usually used with a bowl sink the look is striking enough to dominate the whole room is so desired.

Whichever faucet option you eventually opt for though ensuring they are properly installed is every bit as as important as ensuring any other plumbing fixture is. Not only can a leaky faucet be an endless annoyance (that drip, drip, drip that can drive you crazy) but it can also lead to water damage. The slow, creeping kind that can cause all kinds of problems but often aren’t noticed – or attended to – until it’s too late. So while the home store may claim that the set they just sold you is easy to install take a peek at the instructions and then be honest; are your DIY skills up to the job? If not, there’s no shame in calling in a plumber to help.

How to Clean a Sink Overflow to Prevent Odours and Water Damage

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Sink overflows, whether they are located in a kitchen sink or a bathroom sink, are not really things that we ever take too much notice of. Unless they fail of course. We take notice of lots of overlooked items when they fail. A worst case scenario involving a sink overflow is a pipe blockage that leads to an overflowed sink and the water damage that can result from it. Not so bad perhaps, but still pretty nasty, is a smelly sink overflow, which can often lead to the whole room starting to stink a bit.

If you do begin to notice a bad odor coming from the overflow pipe in your sink that means that it is probably clogged up with layers of gunk and a colony of bacteria. Not a pleasant thought, certainly not very hygienic and, if left alone not only will the smell get worse but that previously discussed blockage is likely to occur as well. But how the heck does one actually go about cleaning pout something as ‘fiddly’ as a sink overflow?

Cleaning Your Sink Overflow the Easier Way

Even though you probably can’t access the overflow quite as easily as you can access the drain itself, you can still clean it fairly quickly. Here’s how:

What You’ll Need

1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup table salt
1 cup warm distilled white vinegar
Turkey baster
Oxygen bleach
Cloth

How It’s Done

1
Combine 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of table salt to make a scouring mixture. Pour it down the sink.
2
Pour 1 cup of warm distilled white vinegar down the sink. Wait while it foams, and let it work for 15 minutes. Notice whether any of the mixture emerges through the overflow pipe; it may or may not, depending on the force of the foaming action in the drain. If it doesn’t, you are more likely to need that oxygen bleach later.
3
Flush the drain with hot water for 30 seconds. Fill a turkey baster with hot water, and squirt the water into the overflow pipe to rinse that portion of the drain system as well.
4
Check whether the overflow pipe still smells. If so, the cleaning mixture didn’t foam far enough into the pipe to properly address the problem. Open a window for ventilation, and fill the turkey baster with oxygen bleach.
5
Insert the tip of the turkey baster into the overflow pipe. Squirt the oxygen bleach into the pipe. Repeat this three to four times to cover as much of the inside of the pipe as possible. Let the oxygen bleach sit for 15 minutes.
6
Rinse the pipe thoroughly by squirting in hot water with the turkey baster. Dip a cloth in some distilled white vinegar and wipe the inside of the overflow pipe to kill any bacteria living in the mouth of the opening.

Yes, this may be a bit messy but taking the time to repeat the process once in a while will not only lead to a better smelling bathroom but also add another layer of water damage prevention to your home.

The Real Cost of ‘Minor’ Water Damage

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A flood, even a smaller one – perhaps a washing machine accident or a basement flood after a storm – can, as many homeowners know really – be much more than a disrupting nuisance it can cause all kinds of water damage, ruining belongings, furnishings and even the overall structure of a home.

Most people, when faced with a great deal of water after a serious flood will quite naturally reach for the phone to call a water damage restoration expert to come and help them begin to reclaim their home, and their lives, right away. When the flood is smaller, those few inches from the washing machine disaster for example, or basement flood they think has been ‘pretty much’ dealt with by a sump pump, those same people may opt for a ‘DIY’ water remediation job usually involving a wet/dry vac and a LOT of manual labour.

The problem with that is the job is rarely ever really ‘done’ and while a homeowner may think that they have done a pretty good job of getting most of the moisture up and then sets up fans to ‘dry out’ the rest, all kinds of things may be going on ‘behind the scenes’ they realise nothing about that are causing all kinds of expensive, yet to be seen water damage anyway. To demonstrate what we mean check out this ‘Minor’ Water Damage Time Line’:

Within First Hour:

 

  • Quickly moving water may creep throughout the home, finding the path of least resistance, saturating everything in its path.
  • Stains/finish released from furniture could cause permanent staining on flooring and carpets.
  • Finishes on moisture sensitive furniture may begin to turn white.
  • Paper goods (books, magazines, art work) may become unsalvageable due to saturation.

 

One to 24 Hours:

 

  • Normal household odors may begin to intensify.
  • Musty/sour odors may become apparent.
  • Drywall may swell and begins to break down.
  • Metal surfaces that are unprotected will begin to tarnish.
  • Laminated furniture begins to swell and/or split and finish can begin to crack.

 

48 Hours to 1 Week:

 

  • Mould, mildew and other contaminants are likely to begin to grow and spread.
  • Furniture often warps and begins to show signs of mold.
  • Any affected paint may begin to blister.
  • Windows, doors , casings, and studs begin to swell and warp.
  • Wood flooring begins to swell, warp, or buckle.
  • Persons with respiratory concerns or compromised immune systems could experience distress due to pollutants in the air.

 

More Than 1 Week:

 

  • Claim cost and renovation time increases due to extensive restoration.
  • Structural safety and health concerns may pose serious hazards to occupants requiring other living arrangements may be necessary until reconstruction is complete.

 

 

In addition to all of this, the longer you leave it to call in a professional to help you remediate water damage effectively the higher the cost of the job at hand is likely to rise. Most good water remediation specialists will ensure that as much of their work as possible is covered by your insurance, but slower claims and even slower remediation may result in lowered payouts and/or premium increases, so why take that kind of financial risk?

Home Hacks: Easy Ways to Conquer Bathroom Odours

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In the somewhat damp and often rather confined space of the average bathroom, even one with a good extractor fan, bathroom odors can become rather overpowering (and unpleasant) rather quickly. There are more causes of bathroom odours than you may think, so it often takes more than a squirt or two of a strong air freshener to keep your bathroom smelling clean and fresh. Here are a few tips:

Treat Your Towels Better – If you and your family are in the habit of taking a wet towel and hanging it on the towel rack to dry next to another wet towel chances are that that habit is leading to at least some degree of bathroom outdoor. Damp towels get very musty very quickly, especially in the humid conditions that exist in most bathrooms and that smell can linger for a long time. To solve the smelly towel problem replace your old towel racks with wider ones that will allow each towel the space it needs to dry out properly.

Check for Leaks – Is there a strange lingering smell in your bathroom that you really can’t identify? Check for leaks. Water slowly dripping from a leaky pipe into a bathroom cabinet or behind the toilet where people rarely look could be the cause as the water slowly damages the flooring and allows mould to grow.

Add a Permanent Scent – There may be times when an extra burst of air freshener is called for in the bathroom but you should also try to keep a constant source of light scent in the room as well. A bowl full of an attractive pot potpourri can do the trick very nicely or, if you can spare the socket one of those electric oil warmers that disperse a light, but ever present aroma.

Deal with a Stinky Shower Curtain – Sometimes a bathroom can look like the cleanest place in the house, until you take a look at the inside corners of the shower curtain. Shower curtains, fabric ones especially, are a favorite breeding ground for all kinds of nasty molds and mildew. To try to prevent this after you shower, pull the shower curtain only partially closed. This will let air circulate within the folds, allowing the curtain to dry faster.

Home Design Trends: Bathroom Design Ideas – Asian Inspired Bathroom

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There are many different bathroom décor styles and which you choose when remodeling or upgrading your bathroom is purely a matter of personal taste and budget. The Asian inspired bathroom is a beautiful, stylish look that many homeowners love. Such décor transforms a functional room into a tranquil spa and to do so is far easier than you might think. Here are some tips for creating a new Zen like bathroom space in your home:

The Key is Simplicity – The theme of an Asian inspired bathroom should be “less is more” as in less clutter and more style. The overall effect should be a tranquil, simple look that provides refuge from the busy goings on in the rest of the house.

Natural is Best – The best Asian inspired bathrooms make great use of various natural elements. Bamboo can be introduced, either in the form of a beautiful wall board or incorporated into the function of the bathroom itself in the form of a gorgeous (and still rather unusual) bamboo vessel sink. The addition of a waterfall faucet with such a sink is a great way to add a soothing outdoor inspired touch to your Asian inspired bathroom.Bamboo bath tubs are a ‘thing’ too but they are not inexpensive.

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Some may wonder about the wisdom of using bamboo as a flooring material in the bathroom though, because it is such a damp and humid place a lot of the time. Although bamboo is not a hardwood but a grass (no, it really is) and it is not prone to some of the issues that adding hardwood flooring to a bathroom can raise standard bamboo flooring is still crafted an organic material that, if exposed to excess moisture can be prone to warping and water damage. So how can you make a sink or tub out of it? That is a different kind of heavily treated, strand woven bamboo. You can buy that in flooring form but it’s far more expensive. If you are really set on using bamboo flooring you could consider a tile/woven bamboo pairing like the one pictured above, which is, admittedly, pretty stunning.

Showering Simplicity – Since simple is the key when designing an Asian inspired bathroom bulky shower curtains should really be replaced with glass shower doors. Such doors blend in almost invisibly with their surroundings and add to that spacious, clean ambiance you are looking for.

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Storage – The counters in an Asian inspired bathroom are clean and clutter free. To achieve that you will need bathroom cabinets and storage cupboards that offer plenty of space. You can gain extra stylish storage space without ruining the overlook of your new bathroom by, for instance, adding a simple raffia laundry basket or bamboo wall shelving.

What is Mould Testing and When is It Needed?

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You may have heard of the concept of mould testing. You may even have noticed that it is a service we offer ourselves at Restoration 1 Kitchener. And you may be wondering just what that means and why anyone would need such a service in the first place.

What is Mould Testing Anyway?

Basically mould testing is exactly what the name suggests; testing a home – office building – for mould growth, signs of past mould damage and identifying any mould that is found.

Who Commissions Mould Testing?

Testing is a standard part of any mould remediation project – we have to know what we are dealing with and so does the property owner. But it is also something that may be requested by property buyers as mould is not an issue that a standard home or building inspection covers. If mould exists, or has in past, it may be a factor in the successful completion (or not) of a real estate sale. And in some cases people commission mould testing after they notice that certain rooms in their home or office seems to cause, or exacerbate, allergy type symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes.

Where do Mould Testers Look for Mould?

Everywhere! There are the obvious spots – the basement, the attic, damp foundations – but if necessary also inside walls, in dark crawl spaces and other places. But no matter where they look it is very important – and actually we would say essential – that the mold inspector also looks for sources of moisture.

Water is essential for mould growth in the first place. Without a source of water, you simply will not have mould growth. If this source of moisture is not found and then steps are taken to make sure the issue is resolved and/or eliminated, the growth will eventually return and any mould remediation efforts are of negligible long term value.

One last note; mould inspections need to be performed by a qualified inspector who has formal training and experience with mold inspections. Training and experience are necessary. Our techs have undergone rigorous training and you need to make sure that anyone dealing with unidentified moulds in your home has too.