How to Eliminate Mildew Odors from your Home


That musty smell associated with mildew definitely ranks high on the list of the worst odors that can be found in your home. It’s a common one, too, hiding in damp corners and dark spaces. But here’s the good news: you can totally eliminate mold and mildew odors with just a few household items.

There’s not a quick fix for getting rid of mildew odors. It might be a long road before the smell is completely gone. But despite not being an overnight solution, it is a pretty simple one. A few common household items are all you should need. As long as you are persistent about eradicating the odor, the first step (and the most difficult one) is locating it.

This may seem like an odd suggestion, but it’s the best way to sniff out the source of those moldy smells: follow your nose. Before you can get rid of them, you need to find out where they are coming from. You’ll also need a clear line of sight to any of those places where mold and mildew like to hide, so remove any items that might get in the way of your search. Pack up toiletries and other sundry items, take down your shower curtain, and box up any junk in the basement or attic. Once you’ve got a clear view of your surfaces, pay close attention to any areas that are vulnerable to moisture, such as pipes in the basement or grout lines in the bathroom or kitchen.

Get yourself a large bucket and mix fours parts water to one part bleach. This is your magic weapon against any mildew that you manage to find. If you can locate the source, you might be able to get away with simply spot treating the area. If not (or if you just want to be extra thorough), you’ll need to give the whole room a good bleaching. Whether you’re doing the whole room or just the problem spots, scrub well and remember to rinse off any bleach residue with clear water to finish off.

Is the mildew smell still hanging around even after you’ve scrubbed every floor and wall in your home? It could be that the odor is actually coming from some of your fabrics, like old blankets or towels. Get yourself some all-fabric bleach and soak any questionable fabrics for at least 30 minutes. When the time is up, rinse everything well and then run it through the wash on your normal settings. This method can be used to freshen your fabrics any time, so you may want to do it even if you don’t think they are the source of your mildew problem.

Once you’ve finally gotten rid of those awful odors, the next step is to make sure they don’t come back. Charcoal, cat litter, and baking soda all work well to absorb odors and are great for ongoing defense. Get yourself a large container and fill it with one of these odor absorbers about half way. Leave it in any room where you are concerned about mildew smells, and replace it once a month. You can help problem areas stay dry by using your ceiling fans or installing a dehumidifier to keep mildew from being able to grow.

How to Budget For a Home Renovation


If you had to write down all of the renovation ideas you might have for your home, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up with a list that’s a bit longer than you know how to take on. Any time you are considering home improvements, the easiest step is figuring out exactly what you want. When you start lining up what you want with what you can afford, it usually starts getting a little bit tougher. Here is a simple four step plan to help you set your home improvement budget:

Step 1

Decide on a rough estimate. Once you know exactly what you’d like to do, get a general idea of what similar projects usually cost. One good rule of thumb, for example, is that major home upgrades like adding on or remodeling an entire room usually cost at least $100 – $200 per square foot and up. If you’re using a remodeling contractor or an interior designer to help you with your project, talk it over with them to get a general idea of what it should cost.

Step 2

Figure out your total budget. Now that you know what you want and you have a general idea of what it will cost, you need to know how much you will be able to spend. This step is pretty straightforward if you’re paying in cash, but it gets a bit more complicated if you plan to borrow to fund your project. You’ll need to figure out exactly how much your bank will lend you and what type of loan you’ll want to get. The three most common loan options for home renovations are a cash-out refinance, a home equity loan, and a home equity line of credit.

The best option for most homeowners is a home equity line of credit, which is secured by the bank and qualifies for lower interest rates than most other loan types. A home equity line of credit has a very low minimum though, so you’ll have to remember to pay more than that if you don’t want to end up in debt. You should be able to pay at least 1/20th of the principal (to pay off in 10 years). If you don’t think you will be able to afford that, then you may need to adjust the scope of your project.

Step 3

Choose your contractor. The first thing you need to do before reaching out to contractors is figure out the exact details of what you are looking for. Write out an itemized list of what you want, down to the type of materials and the exact products for faucets and appliances. It seems like you are picking at the details, but in reality what you are doing will ensure that all of the bids you receive will be priced using the same items.

When you are ready to take bids, get recommendation for no less than three great contractors from neighbors, friends, and family. Look online and check reviews to see who the best contractors are in your area. Give each one of them your project description with all of the details and product lists, and make sure they return an itemized bid.

Once you have received all of the bids for your project, add 20% to the total cost of each one. This extra padding allows for a contingency to cover any changes or issues that arise after the project starts. If none of the bids fit within your budget after adding the extra 20%, you’ll need to adjust the scope of your project one more time.

Step 4

Double check your budget and trim the fat. It’s not a disaster if your winning bid still doesn’t fit into the budget you have available. Take a look at some of the details of your project and find some areas where you can scale it down. Your contractor or designer may have some ideas to help you lower costs, so don’t forget to include them in the planning as you go over your project and re-assess. With a little time and effort, you’ll find that happy spot where your dream renovation and your budget both fit into the picture.


How To Know If There Is Harmful Asbestos In Your Home

Asbestos can be found in many places, and new homes are no exception. However, homes that were built prior to 1980 usually are more prone to asbestos presence. Places like ceiling tiles, older floor tiles, flashing and roof shingles, insulation, siding, pipe cement, or even joint compound in between sheetrock can contain traces of asbestos.

Vermiculite attic insulation which has been contaminated with asbestos may also be present in certain homes. Until August 31st, 2009, you were able to file Canadian claims regarding Zonolite related property damages, but this is no longer a possibility.

Asbestos can be hazardous in a few ways

Asbestos can be hazardous in a few ways.

When it is released into the air, asbestos becomes very hazardous. Homes and buildings which contain asbestos are at risk of releasing asbestos fibers into the air. For example, when insulation becomes old and starts to deteriorate around pipes, boilers, and furnaces, it can release asbestos particles into the air. When we drill into ceilings or when we patch damaged walls, we can cause asbestos fibers to go airborne and become a danger to us and everyone around us. Even something as simple as turning on a ceiling fan or moving draperies around can spread asbestos dust.

Underground pipes used to transport water to homes can also become damaged asbestos transite pipes. Transite is a cement material that can deteriorate over time and contains asbestos. As it continues to deteriorate, the asbestos fibers detach and end up in the drinking water which the pipes carry into our homes.

Ways You Can Check Your Home for Asbestos

Ways You Can Check Your Home for Asbestos

Although it is a good idea to do visual inspections frequently, most of the time this is not enough to deem your home asbestos free. A better idea is to sample different locations of your home and send the samples in to a certified lab for inspection and analysis.

The two most commonly used and approved methods of analysis are PLM (Polorized Light Microscopy) and TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopy). There are a few certified laboratories which do the TEM and PLM tests, and they can be found through the National Institute for Standards and Technology. If interested, you can reach them via the following phone number: 800-720-4981.

Information can be obtained through the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) on how to collect samples for asbestos testing, however, the American Lung Association strongly suggests that you let a certified professional take samples instead. This will be a safer choice for you and your family.

What Do I Do if There is Asbestos in My Home?

What Do I Do if There is Asbestos in My Home?

There are many factors which determine the most effective method of how to deal with asbestos. Things like location, condition of the affected area, and whether it is non-friable or friable, are all factors which have to be taken into account. Friable asbestos can deteriorate rather easily and become airborne quickly, while non-friable asbestos is more tightly bound and can be handled easier as long as it is not cut, sawed, or sanded.

Asbestos containing material might not be dangerous only if it is in good condition and made sure that asbestos fibers can’t be released. You should still monitor such material and make sure that it is checked for signs of damage or deterioration.

Repair and isolation is a valid method of dealing with asbestos containing material, removal is not always necessary. Things like small cuts or tears in insulation can be repaired. As long as the material is in good condition, further damage may be isolated using an airtight barrier. This is generally a temporary solution. Encapsulants, a liquid form of material which provides a seal against asbestos fibers, can be used on walls and ceilings which contain asbestos material in them, but they are only useful if the material is not damaged and will cause more harm if the asbestos containing material is already deteriorating.

The only permanent solution to an asbestos problem is a complete removal of all damaged and deteriorating material. There is a high risk of fibers becoming airborne if the removal is not conducted properly. When the removal is complete, air samples should be taken and submitted for testing to ensure your safety. Appropriate equipment designed for removal of damaged asbestos containing material should be used.

It is of vital importance that you choose a competent professional who is certified to remove or work with asbestos, whether it is for removal or repair. Be warned that many contractors do not have the appropriate certifications to work with damaged or deteriorating asbestos containing materials. Ensure that whoever you choose has taken a federal or state-approved safety course. Use your local health department, Better Business Bureau, and regional EPA office to get a list of service professionals who operate in your area. The EPA also recommends that whoever you choose to do the work is independent from your initial inspector of contamination, this way only necessary work is done and there are no conflicts of interest.

10 Key Areas to Maintain to Avoid Costly Damages

10 Key Areas to Maintain to Avoid Costly Damages

Throughout the life of any home or office building, you will start to notice small signs of wear. Knowing how to recognize these signs early and dealing with them immediately is the key to making sure they do not develop into larger problems later on. By keeping an eye on the areas of your home that need to most attention, you can stop big damages in their tracks and avoid spending serious money on major repairs.

Watch out for leaks!

Watch out for leaks!


Your basement is the one area in your home or office that is most in danger of mold and water damage. Keep an eye out for chipped and peeling paint, as this can be a sign of impending damages. You can avoid this problem by keeping your downspouts cleaned out regularly.

Is there mold hiding here?

Is there mold hiding here?

Attic & Roof

Another area in your home or office that is in danger of developing mold and mildew is the attic. You should inspect your roof and the inside of your attic at least once every 6 months to check for signs that mold or mildew is starting to develop, and repair any damages or leaks in your roof as soon as they occur.

Clean Gutters are Happy Gutters!

Clean Gutters are Happy Gutters!


If your gutters become clogged or damaged, they can cause water to leak into unwanted areas of your home, leading to flooded basements or wet flooring. You should clean out your gutters at least once every 6 months, and remember to check that they are not loose or damaged while you’re up there.

Is that a crack?

Is that a crack?


Loose or damaged windows can invite a laundry list of problems. They can allow weather and pests to more easily get inside your home or office, cause higher heating and cooling costs, and even contribute to an increased risk of burglary. You can ward against all of these problems by keeping an eye on the caulking around each window and replacing any damaged caulk that you find. Of course, if you have a window with busted glass, you’ll want to get it repaired as soon as possible.

Big luxury bathroom, big luxury pipe system

Big luxury bathroom, big luxury pipe system


Anytime you’ve got so many pipes in one place, you’re bound to find signs of trouble eventually. Leaky or dripping faucets, clogged or running toilets, or faulty pipes are all possible to catch and remedy before they become very big, very expensive repair needs. Make sure to check on all of your pipes, tighten any loose connections, and replaced any pipes that have gone bad regularly.

Do you smell something burning?

Do you smell something burning?


Fireplaces are great way to make any space more inviting, but there are some concerns related to keeping a working fireplace that you should stay on top off. One major problem is that they can potentially cause a rise in carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, within the air. It’s hard to tell this is happening until it is too late, so you should be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors close to any fireplace that you use. Another concern is that any damage or blockage in the chimney can produce a serious risk to the safety of your home or office, so you should make sure that the chimney is cleaned regularly and in good repair.

When was the last time you change your filter?

When was the last time you changed your filter?

Heating & Air Conditioning Systems

This may come as a surprise, but not everyone replaces their air filters as often as they should. I know, shocking. Remember to change out your air filters at least once every 3 months so that they don’t get clogged (and stop doing their job). This will improve the performance of your HVAC unit and help to avoid major problems and repair costs.

Pipes, Pipes everywhere!

Pipes, Pipes everywhere!

Sewers & Pipes

Here we are, back at pipes again. Clogged up drains and faulty pipes really are the most common day to day problems in many homes and offices. Sometimes, the problem you see on the surface is caused by something much deeper. If you have drains that are clogged or running slowly, get yourself a pipe snake to help you really get down into the pipes and clean out any issues.

Safety First!

Safety First!


Many homes and offices, especially those on the older side, are missing some of the basic electrical safety measures that are available today. If you have any two pronged outlets, make sure that you replace them so that all of your appliances are properly grounded. Also, remember to check your light bulbs periodically to make sure that they haven’t become loose.

Small jobs prevent big problems.

Small jobs prevent big problems.

Exterior Walls

Any time there are slight damages to the outside walls of your home, be sure the patch them up and repaint them immediately. What looks like simple cosmetic damage to you could turn into a more serious problem if left alone.

Every home or office has it quirks, but you can keep any building in good repair and avoid costly repairs much longer by taking care of these key areas with simple and easy maintenance.

10 Things That You Should Be Donating To ReStore

When you have extra items that you need to get rid of, your first thought is probably to take them to a landfill or other designated dumping area, but what if there is a better way to unload your unwanted items? There is a quick and easy way to put the items you no longer need into the hands of someone who can use them, and support a local cause for those in need at the same time!

When you donate your unwanted items to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, you are participating in a cycle that helps our community and keeps as much as 20,000 tonnes of usable items out of landfills each year. The inventory of the Alberta ReStore in Medicine Hat is made up almost entirely of donated items, which are sold at deeply discounted rates to local families and businesses. All of the proceeds from these sales go directly to support Habitat for Humanity to help cover the cost of providing affordable homes to local families in need. This cycle is so beneficial and efficient that many insurance companies are giving powerful incentives for restoration companies to participate, both by purchasing materials form the ReStore and by donating leftover materials after a job is completed.

 What kinds of items can I donate to my local ReStore?

The local ReStore in Medicine Hat can accept donations of the following types:

  1. Large Appliances such as Ovens, Refrigerators, Washers & Dryers
  2. Clean and Undamaged Furniture such as Couches, Chairs, Desks & Book Shelves
  3. Smaller Home Decor Items such as Paintings, Wall Hangings, Center Pieces & Collectibles
  4. Lighting Fixtures such as Ceiling Fans, Chandeliers & Lamps
  5. Unopened Cans of Paint, Primer, Stain & Varathane
  6. Doors & Windows
  7. Fixtures such as Sinks, Faucets, Bathtubs & Showers
  8. Cabinets from the Kitchen & Bathroom
  9. New & Undamaged Flooring Materials such as Tiles & Carpeting
  10. Building Materials in good condition such as Lumber, Drywall & Insulation

 What kinds of items cannot be accepted by my local ReStore?

If any of your items are stained or damaged, they will not be able to be resold and cannot be accepted by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Other items that cannot be accepted include:

  1. Flooring Materials that have been used or are not in good condition
  2. Used Mattresses or Hide-A-Beds
  3. Any form of Clothing or Bedding
  4. Electronics such as Computers, Monitors, Televisions & Stereo Equipment

What else can I expect when dropping items off at ReStore?

Claim Numbers:

ReStore uses claim numbers to track each item donated so that they can provide a detailed list for insurance agencies. This also has the added benefit of allowing Habitat for Humanity to link each job to the donated items that may have been used to help make it possible.

Tax Receipts:

Some donations will also receive an accompanying tax receipt so that the donation can be claimed when you file your taxes. These receipts will be made in the name of the associated insurance company unless otherwise directed.

Whether you want to help the environment by keeping usable items out of landfills or you’re just really jazzed about the idea of giving your old and unwanted items a chance at new life in someone else’s home, ReStore is a great way to do just that. Remember the 10 items you can donate and next time, skip the landfill.

Environmental Services in Southwest Alberta

Crane’s Restoration is a leading provider of environmental services to major corporations, government agencies & insurance carriers. Crane’s Restoration combines environmental expertise, hands-on experience and an extensive fleet of equipment in order to provide practical and cost effective solutions to a wide range of clients.

Crane’s Restoration is certified and qualified to perform the following environmental services:

  • Fuel & Oil Spill Clean-Up
  • Transport Roll Over
  • Site Remediation
  • Hazardous Material Removal
  • Air Monitoring
  • Asbestos Abatement
  • Lead Abatement