Keep a lid on it: Why you need to pay attention to roof maintenance

roof maintenance

Sometimes it feels like there’s an endless to-do list when maintaining a building or a house. Some of the upkeep can be put off until later. But roof maintenance is one of the tasks that needs to be top priority — especially with our Canadian climate.

Heavy snowfalls, spring thaws and rain, scorching summer heat and leaf-clogged eaves troughs in autumn can wreak havoc on any roof if you’re not paying attention.

So, what’s the big deal?

Your roof may be out of sight but keep it top of mind when thinking about risk management. What may not seem like a big deal can rapidly escalate into a major headache and cause significant business disruption, as well as health issues for your staff and customers.

Don’t wait until you see water dripping inside your facility. You can avoid costly repair bills by taking a pro-active approach toward your building’s exterior surfaces.

What to look for

First off, let’s talk about puddles – fun for kids to splash in, but a warning sign on a flat commercial rooftop. An adequate drainage system to eliminate puddles after a storm or winter thaw is crucial. While some puddling may occur naturally, any pooling that persists for more than a few days is a potential problem.

Each square foot of puddling adds about 5 lbs. of weight per square inch. Also watch for damaged flashing that seals the roof where angles meet and along the seams.

On pitched roofs, the water won’t puddle but extreme weather events can damage the shingles, eaves troughs and flashing which will compromise your building’s “exterior envelope”.

Health issues from mold and mildew

Mold and mildew caused by water damage from roof leaks can create serious health issues for your staff and customers. Many people are sensitive to mold, which can cause throat irritation, stuffiness, difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing and eye irritation. Those with asthma or compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to mold exposure.

Once mold has contaminated a facility, extreme care must be taken to clean it and prevent further growth.

Roof maintenance – check regularly and act quickly

As part of your building’s maintenance routine, be sure to have a roof maintenance professional inspect the roof at least twice a year, particularly in the spring and fall.

In the spring, identify any damage that may have occurred during the winter from snow and ice. Be sure to have the repairs done immediately before heavy spring rains cause more deterioration.

Inspect the roof in the fall to make sure it’s in good condition to handle the harsh winter months.

Tip Sheet
  • keep gutters and drains clear of debris
  • trim back overhanging branches
  • keep the roof clear of snow (if possible)
  • schedule regular roof inspections, especially after severe weather events
  • inspect the perimeter, especially the flashing
  • check for loose shingles – or on a flat roof, cracks in the membrane
  • observe the seals around pipes and other roof openings
  • repair any roof damage as soon as possible

Making small repairs to prevent roof leaks is one of the best ways to extend the life of your roof and protect your facility’s interior.  A financial investment now will save a lot of money later on and will ensure that the building — and the people inside it — stay safe and sound.

Get in touch

We care about clean — and about your health and safety.

Hey, kids, let’s science! The Magic of Microfiber

nylon molecule
(Photo: Michael Ströck/Wikipedia)
Microfiber packs a big punch

Fun fact: the average person spends about 20 hours per month on household cleaning.

But there are tools to make the job easier and science has given us so many labour-saving inventions, it’s easy to take them for granted. (Just think about how laundry used to be done!)

Microfiber cloths are so eco-friendly, effective and efficient they’re a must-have for any green cleaning kit. But how do they do what they do? Read on for the lowdown on this “magical” fabric.

She blinded me with science

The story of microfibers goes all the way back to 19th century Holland, when Johannes Diderik van der Waals laid the foundation for modern molecular physics. Building on that knowledge, chemical engineers of the 1950s and ’60s began experimenting with ultra-fine filaments for industrial applications.

By the 1970s, Ultrasuede hit the market and expanded the possibilities for new applications of the material. Not only was the ersatz suede used for making groovy pantsuits but also for interior, automotive and aircraft design applications.

But it wasn’t until the ’90s, when Swedish materials scientists began to develop the technology further, that microfiber cloths revolutionized green cleaning in both industrial and household applications. Today, microfiber cloths are widely used in Europe where environmental awareness is greater, but the technology is still catching on in North America.

So, what’s so big about tiny?

Microfiber is a synthetic combination of polyamides (aka nylon) and polyester. This substance is used to create super-fine strands with a diameter about 10 to 50 times thinner than a human hair. The strands are then split even further creating tiny fibers which are about the size of the average bacteria. Germs, begone!

microfiber versus cotton
Microfiber versus cotton

Thanks to this micro splitting process the surface area of microfiber is roughly 15 times greater than that of cotton fabrics, allowing it to trap more dust, dirt and bacteria in its million tiny edges. More surface area equals more efficiency — you get big results from those teensy fibers.

Another benefit of microfiber cloths is that they won’t scratch or mar even the most delicate surfaces because they attract debris instead of pushing it around. That’s why microfiber cloths are used for lens cleaning and other precision applications.

Remember that 19th century Dutchman van der Waals? He was the first scientist to describe the properties of molecular attraction. The “van der Waals forces” inherent in the plastic microfibers are what give these mighty cloths their ability to attract grime and germs, hence the nickname “dirt magnets.”

But is it green technology?

You bet it is. Microfiber technology virtually eliminates the need for paper towels and toxic cleaning chemicals.

Using these cloths will even reduce your water usage. A microfiber mop weighs far less than a traditional string mop and uses about half the water to get the job done.

Added bonus: microfibers are lint-free, making them ideal for glass and other shiny-surface cleaning. No more harsh window cleaners, which can be damaging to your lungs with repeated use.

Show me the money

Microfiber cleaning products can tolerate between 100-200 washings. That’s a long life for a cleaning product. So, you’re not only getting a more thorough, more environmentally-friendly result, but you’re also reducing your budget. Gotta love science.

At Allcare, microfiber cloths are just one of the products we use to make your facility shiny and germ-free. Get in touch today for more information on our Green Housekeeping practices.

We care about clean.

Don’t be S.A.D.: How to beat the Winter Blues with some simple hacks

Yes, the Winter Blues are an actual thing

It used to be called simply the “winter blues” but in 1984 mental health researchers first described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and made the link between reduced sunlight exposure and mood disruptions. If you find you’re feeling depressed starting in late fall and throughout the winter, you may just be SAD. Symptoms include difficulty with concentration, decreased libido, anxiety, lethargy and even carbohydrate cravings. So, savour those yummy Christmas cookies but be mindful: weight gain is another SAD symptom.

There’s plenty you can do to beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

The good news is that there are a few easy lifestyle tweaks that can help ease the symptoms of this seasonal syndrome.

The first order of business is to make sure you optimize your vitamin D levels. A simple blood test will let you know whether or not you’re deficient. If you are – and those of us living in cold, northern climes are prone to deficiency, especially during winter – you can supplement with vitamin D3 to raise your levels to the optimal range.

An added benefit of ensuring you have enough of the so-called “sunshine vitamin” is that recent studies indicate, in addition to the known benefits of helping maintain healthy teeth and bones, D may have a protective effect against cold and flu viruses, as well as some cancers.

The sunshine prescription

Of course, nothing brightens the mood like sunshine itself. Take time for yourself to go for a brisk walk when the sun is shining, preferably around noon when you’ll get the most benefit from the sun’s rays.

If you can manage to get away to a tropical place in winter, you’ll store up enough vitamin D to help get you through to spring. It’s estimated that just 30 minutes of full body sun exposure around mid-day generates about 10,000-20,000 IUs of vitamin D.

Staying active — a little bit of exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week — can lift your mood and relieve anxiety and stress. And be sure to get enough sleep, but not too much — it’s easy to hide under the covers when you’re depressed.

Whether you work from home, in an office or an industrial environment, in addition to helping alleviate the winter blues, proper lighting makes work easier and more efficient.

Poor lighting conditions, such as low, glaring or shadow-casting light can cause headaches and eye fatigue, which can lead to more serious consequences like workplace accidents. Proper lighting reduces stress and increases productivity by allowing you to concentrate better on the task at hand.

Chase away the Winter Blues with a light box

Light therapy, in the form of a full-spectrum light box, has been used for decades to effectively combat seasonal affective disorder. SAD sufferers use the specially-calibrated table-top light in the morning for just 30 minutes a day. It’s simple and easy – just turn it on while you’re catching up on the news or scrolling through your social media feeds.

So, if you’re feeling SAD, no need to suffer in the dark. The best way to beat the winter blues, to work more efficiently and to have a healthier, happier life is to live in the light.

We care about clean — and your health

Get in touch with us today for your no-obligation Healthy Space assessment.

Is Washing Your Hands Really Necessary?

hand-washing

When you were a kid you were taught to wash your hands — before every meal, after using the bathroom and after coming in from outside. But now you’re an adult and you know all about hand-washing. And if you don’t wash them occasionally, it’s not the end of the world, right?

In 2015, Initial Washroom Hygiene conducted a massive survey of 100,000 people about their hand-washing habits. According to the survey, a staggering 62% of men and 40% of women didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. So, is this just another harmless oversight or does it have real health consequences?

The average person has about 1,500 bacteria per square centimetre on their hands, so good hand hygiene is crucial in reducing the spread of germs and controlling disease. Germs, such as bacteria and viruses are invisible and everywhere. They’re on everything you touch, cellphones, hand rails, shopping carts, even your toothbrush. Germs can spread rapidly after handling raw meat, by using the toilet or by coughing and sneezing.

As mentioned above, you should be washing your hands throughout the course of your day, but let’s get real and talk about the bathroom. Bathrooms are where bacteria really like to hang out and plot their next attack.

Properly washing your hands, especially after using the bathroom, prevents the spread of germs and keeps you and the environment around you clean. Proper hand-washing reduces the risk of getting diarrhea by about one-third and reduces the risk of contracting respiratory illness by up to 20%.

So, what’s the right way to wash your hands? Follow the five steps below to wash your hands the right way every time.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.

This video can also help you learn how to wash your hands the right way.

We care about clean – hands.

Get in touch. We’d love to help you banish the bacteria in your organization.

Preventing the Growth of Moulds in the Workplace

The public has increasingly become aware of the health effects and symptoms of exposure to mould. For instance, it’s not uncommon to hear about schools closing when mould growth is discovered. Mountainview Elementary School in Howie Centre, Nova Scotia was the latest to close.

An indoor mould growth
Indoor mould can impact the health of a building and those who live or work in the space.

Mould is a serious issue that needs to be addressed to prevent human exposure and further damage to building materials and furnishings. Every Allcare cleaner pays close attention to moulds, making sure to check janitor rooms, window sills, washrooms, and elsewhere for the first signs of mould growth.

In this post, we’ll explain how mould develops and what your workplace can do to eliminate a mould problem.

What do Moulds Need to Grow?

Moulds need moisture and nutrients to grow, so keeping a dry and clean environment is an essential step to prevent them from growing.

It’s also important to note that different kinds of moulds grow on different materials. Certain kinds of moulds like an extremely wet environment. Other kinds of moulds may be growing even if no water can be seen. Even dampness can give certain kinds of moulds enough moisture to grow.

Sources of Moisture

Moisture can enter the workplace in various ways. It could be from leaks in the floor, walls, or roof, or through plumbing leaks, poor drainage and window condensation.

Dampness and moisture can also build up in a workplace throughout the day from activities like washing or cooking. Moisture also accumulates when there is not enough ventilation to expel that moisture.

In your workplace, you should constantly be aware of musty odours, condensation, and discoloration, which are signs of moisture problems, water damage, and mould growth. And take action once you suspect a mould problem is developing.

Removing Mould

When dealing with mould, you should always limit your exposure by wearing a dust mask and rubber gloves.

Small areas of mould can be cleaned by scrubbing the area with detergent, then sponge with a clean, wet rag and dry quickly and thoroughly. Large areas of mould should be cleaned by professionals.

Simply killing mould with is typically not enough since people can react to particles present even in dead mould. Removing mould entirely is usually necessary.

Extra attention should be paid to porous materials like wood that moulds can infiltrate from the inside out, and grow on or in. These materials that are wet and have mould growing in them usually have to be removed and replaced.

And remember…

Unless the root cause of the moisture and water accumulation is corrected, mould will continue to come back time and again.

Places We Clean: The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s “Restoration Services Centre”

Allcare cares about clean, and we’re happy to say that we keep clean Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s “Restoration Services Centre”, the first green building in Ontario to earn the industry’s top designation for eco-friendly design.

The two-story building, which houses office space for 50 occupants and a works garage, was awarded Platinum ranking in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) program administered by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in 2008.

The LEED certification basically assesses the energy efficiency and environmental impact of buildings, and assigns a rating based on the number of credits they get for these practices. For instance, the Restoration Services Centre attained all 10 LEED energy credits, having won points for having solar panels that provide the facility with a portion of its electricity.

It also employs water conservation through the use of ultra low-flow plumbing fixtures and other techniques that helps it consume 95 per cent less indoor water than a typical building of this size. Their composting toilets and waterless urinals seem right at home in the office, thereby contributing to this significant reduction in use of potable water for sanitary purposes.

This, of course, is only part of the story. The Restoration Services Centre strives to maintain its eco-friendliness and sustainability through a sustained commitment to green practices. In turn, they chose Allcare Maintenance Services to provide green cleaning services, and ensure that the thoughtfully constructed indoor environment does not become tainted by harmful chemicals.

Lorne Mlotek, a green building consultant for LeadingLEED, said in an email message that there’s no specific LEED credit that awards points for green cleaning, but it’s consistently given an Innovation in Design point as a means of on-going cleaning. “In fact,” writes Mlotek, “the CaGBC actually use ‘Green Cleaning’ as an example of how to achieve an  innovation in Design point because it is out of the scope of the LEED rating system, but still attributes to a sustainable building.”

Allcare cares about clean, and so do our clients. In its “Restoration Services Centre”, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority  is one such organization that has made a commitment to environmental sustainability and responsibility, and we’re happy that others see a value in that commitment.

Importance Of Purchasing Green Paper Products

When purchasing janitorial paper products, there are things to consider. The most important being; does it help reduce the health and environmental impacts?.

Some of the key issues when choosing which paper products to use are:

Recycled Content: Having recycled content, reduces the amount of virgin free fibers required to produce paper.

Post Consumer Content: This uses Municipal curb recycled content. Having this encourages recycling everywhere.

Source Reduction: Dispensers: Use multi roll dispensers. It helps reduce waste from smaller rolls.

Replace multifold paper towels with larger rolls. Use touch free dispensers or dispensers which release only specific sized sheets.

Bleaching of Product: Try to avoid papers bleached with chlorine or bleached without the use of chlorine.

Be sure when purchasing paper products to look for the Eco Logo Certified symbol. This ensures all the above are taken care of.

Another Reason to do Spring Cleaning: Keeping Allergens at Bay

The coming of spring is a time when the Toronto area wakes up from a snowy winter and enjoy warmer weather. But for one in six Canadians who suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergies, this is the time of year when some of us have allergies that make us cough, scratch our eyes, wheeze, and become irritable. We don’t want that.

As we wrote before, spring is the time when we make it a priority to do a deep annual clean involving steam cleaning carpets, cleaning windows, and stripping and waxing floors. Spring cleaning also helps remove allergens that make their way into the work environment, which helps those with allergies breathe easier.

When it comes to vacuuming, it’s important that vacuums get the very tiny particulates that cause allergies. Allergy Consumer Review explains that a good vacuum should have a high air flow rating, which means that it pulls out allergens from carpets and upholstery faster and penetrate deeper. It should also have a HEPA filter positioned after the motor and sealed so that allergens don’t leak out.

Eliminating airborne dusts and allergens helps improve indoor air quality, which, in turn, helps reduce building related illnesses. When employees aren’t suffering allergies, they tend to be happier and more productive taking fewer sick days. This helps save organizations money.

We care about clean, and we’re sure that any allergy sufferers at your workplace also care about clean. There’s no way to eliminate all allergens, but regular cleaning definitely makes a difference. Make it a priority this spring to schedule a deep spring clean and regular cleaning to keep allergens at a minimum.

Clean Building = Productivity

Building related illnesses affect many Canadian workers. Many experience respiratory complaints, asthma, and allergies. This causes lost work times and poor productivity in employees.

Improving indoor air quality fights building related illnesses and saves organizations money.

Providing a clean and safe workplace encourages employees to maintain their premises. Intern, this too saves the organization money.

It also encourages employee moral and is a good representation of your company to your customers.