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Flood Recovery: Water Cleanup

In the aftermath of a flood, persistent indoor moisture can have negative implications for both personal and structural health.

The City of Calgary Water Services branch advises that failure to “…reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks such as respiratory disease”, while “mold may also damage building materials long after the flood”.

It is therefore important to treat any affected area using absorbent solutions in order to quickly capture and remove excess moisture.

Some simple and inexpensive solutions for use in the aftermath of a flood include Stall DRY Absorbent and Deodorizer and Can Dry Granular Absorbents.

With the ability to absorb up to 140% of their own weight in liquid, Stall DRY Absorbent and Deodorizer and Can Dry Granular Absorbents will remove unwanted moisture, dry out the treated area, prevent mildew and suppress odours leaving a cleaner fresher, and healthier environment.

These products are all natural and can be used on concrete and other sub-floor materials in flooded basements, rooms, sheds and garages after the excess standing water from a flood has been removed.

Directions for Use:

1. Remove all excess standing water with water vac, mop or other suitable device.

2. Once the standing water has been removed, apply up to 0.5 inches of Stall DRY Absorbent and Deodorizer or up to 1 inch of Can Dry on top of the sub-floor, concentrating on applying the product alongside the walls, including closeted areas, and extending out 6 inches. Where dry wall has been removed, apply the product alongside and in-between the studs.

3. Let product sit until dry. For best results leave in place until installing new dry wall and flooring.

4. Sweep up. If vacuuming, use a shop vac. Do not use a household vacuum for this purpose.

5. Dispose of used material. Please note: Stall DRY Absorbent and Deodorizer and Can Dry Granular Absorbents are all natural products and can safely be disposed of at landfill sites.

For use on concrete or sub-floor areas:

In order to dry the surface under wet carpet or damaged flooring, remove all carpeting or damaged flooring. Apply 0.5 inches of Stall DRY Absorbent and Deodorizer or 1 inch of Can Dry to the concrete or other sub-floor material surface. Let product sit until dry.

Clean up as instructed above.

If moisture and/or odour remains, re-apply the product and allow to sit for an additional 24 – 48 hours.

For use with cupboards:

Apply alongside the outside and inside of the base of cupboards. Cover the inside bottom surface with 0.5 inches of Stall DRY Absorbent and Deodorizer or 1 inch of Can Dry. Let product sit until dry. Clean-up as instructed above.

A 18.2 kg bag of Stall DRY will cover an area of up to 200 ft.2. A 16.3 kg bag of Can Dry will cover an area of up to 100 ft.2.

Please note: The area covered will vary depending on the dampness of the area being covered.

For more information about flood recovery, see the Alberta Health Services site at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/page14387.aspx

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Paint Disposal: How to Dispose of Leftover Paint

There are two types of paints commonly used by homeowners. These include oil-based paint and water-based latex paint. Below are guidelines to follow when disposing of these different types of paint. Please note: it is always best to consult your local rules and regulations before disposing of paint products and other chemical substances.

Oil-Based Paints

All oil-based paints must be taken to a household hazardous waste drop-off to be disposed of. Do not dispose of oil-based paint in your regular garbage.

Latex Paint Over 20 Years Old

Latex paints that are over 20 years old may contain lead and therefore must also be disposed of through a hazardous waste drop-off area.

Latex Paint Less Than 20 Years Old

First, you will have to determine whether or not the leftover paint that you have is latex paint.

Look on the label to see if this is specified. If the label has been torn off or is unreadable you can also tell what type of paint you have by how it is thinned or cleaned up. If water will rinse the paint off of your hands and brushes then you have latex paint. If a special product such as paint thinner, a brush cleaner or other solvents must be used then the paint is oil-based. If you can’t decide what type of paint you have then it is best to treat it as an oil-based paint and take it to a hazardous material drop-off.

While Latex paints are less toxic than oil based paints they still have poisonous chemicals in them. Due to the fact that latex paint is often made up of half water, it is easy for these harmful chemicals to seep into the ground, posing a threat to our environment. It is therefore very important that latex paint is left to dry before it is disposed of. Rinsing a small amount of paint off of your hands or brush will not cause any problems however paint should never be poured down any drain or waste water system!

The best way to dry out your leftover latex paint before disposing of it depends on how much you have left in the can.

If there is only a thin film (less than 1/32 of an inch) on the sides of the can then you can simply throw the can out. If it’s a metal can then it can even be recycled.

If there is an inch or so left in the bottom of the can, simply open the lid and leave the can in a well ventilated area to dry. (Please note: it is important that you leave the open paint can in an area where children and animals will not be able to get at it.) Within a few weeks the paint will dry out and harden at which time the whole can can be put out with your regular garbage.

Note: It is important that when putting the paint can out with your regular garbage that you leave the can out for the collector to see. As well, leave the lid off so that your garbage collector can see that the paint is dried and hardened, as haulers will not pick up paint unless they know that it is thoroughly dried latex paint.

In the case that you have a lot of paint left in the can (a pint or more) there are a few tricks that you can use to help the paint dry out faster:

1. Line a box with a plastic bag and pour a thin layer of paint into the box (less than 1 inch). (Keep the box in a well ventilated area where pets and children cannot get into it.) Leave it to dry out and harden. Once the first layer has hardened add another. Repeat this process until all of your leftover paint is hardened then leave the box out with your regular garbage.

2. Mix the paint with scoopable cat litter or Can Dry (either in the can or in a box lined with a plastic bag). Leave this until it is fully hardened then put out with your regular garbage.

Please Note:

If a latex paint can says that it is mildew resistant or preservative it must be disposed of through a hazardous material drop-off site.

Always check your local rules and regulations for disposal procedures for paints and other chemical substances.

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Eliminate Odor in Shoes and Sports Equipment with Stall DRY!

Do you have a pair of shoes or sports equipment that you just can’t get the odor out of? We did! So we put our Stall DRY to the test.

Many people have told us that Stall DRY works great for removing the toughest smells, including skunk spray. So, we thought we would put the product to the test…

First, we got our hands on the smelliest shoes we could find. In fact, the odor in these shoes had soaked right through and into the outer material.

Next, we took one shoe (we kept the other untreated for comparison purposes) and got it completely wet, making sure to let the water soak all the way through.


Step 1: Wet the shoe or equipment with water.

**It is important to get the shoes or equipment wet, as this is what helps the Stall DRY draw out the odor.
 
Then, we covered the shoe in Stall DRY, spreading the product evenly throughout the shoe.

Step 2: Cover the shoe or equipment with Stall DRY.

Step 3: Let dry.

We added some more Stall DRY to a bag and left the shoe completely covered in the bag for a few hours.

Once the shoe was completely dry, we removed it from the bag, dusted it off and sure enough…the smell was gone!

So, if you have an odor that you can’t seem to get rid of…give Stall DRY a try!

Image by JohnGoode

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How to Kill Fire Ants

Fire ants can be a nuisance to have around, not to mention dangerous to sensitive individuals and small animals if attacked.

Fire ants can be identified by their copper brown head and body and dark abdomen. They will often nest near moist areas including river banks, pond shores, lawns and along the side of highways. Most often their nests will be built under objects such as timber, logs, rocks, and bricks. However, if there is no cover for nesting, the ants will construct a dome shaped mound that can reach up to 16 inches (41 centimeters) high and 5 feet (1 meter) deep!

Fire ants feed on young plants, seeds and occasionally crickets. As well, they will often attack small animals and children. Most types of ants will bite and spray acid on the wound they have created however fire ants bite in order to inject toxic venom called solenopsin. This venom causes a burning sensation (hence the name fire ants) and can be deadly to sensitive individuals.

Common reactions to fire ant stings include pain, swelling, redness and itching. If you are allergic to bees or wasps it is likely that you may also experience an allergic reaction to fire ant bites. Allergic reactions may include vomiting, dizziness, disorientation and/or wheezing.

any people use diatomaceous earth as a natural alternative to exterminate fire ants. The product can be sprinkled (or mixed with water and sprayed – for suggested application rates and methods see: APL’s Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Now Approved in Canada As Natural Insecticide) on and around mounds, along the ants’ trails, on plants and in any other area where the ants are present.

Fire ants must come in direct contact with the product in order for it to be effective therefore it is important that all affected areas are treated with a light layer of dust.

Please Note: In the case of strong winds or rain, the powder must be replaced, as it is easily blown and washed away.

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What You Need to Know About Fire Ants

Unlike most ants, European fire ants can be very aggressive and will attack in a swarm if their nest is disturbed. People working outside in their yards and gardens and children and pets are especially at risk if they happen upon a fire ant nest. In fact, fire ant stings can cause severe swelling and have the potential to send an individual to the hospital.

European fire ants prefer warm, wet environments however, in the summer of 2010, it was discovered that this species was willing to push the limits of its tolerance and adapt to new environments, as infestations were discovered in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Until this time, the presence of fire ants had not been documented in BC or even above the 49th parallel. Since then, infestations have also been discovered in Burnaby, Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia.

In addition to their new environment, European fire ant queens also seem to be changing their behaviors. In most cases, new queens will fly away from their nest to start a new colony elsewhere. However, it was discovered that the queens in the nests found throughout BC had simply been walking to new nest sites, creating a much greater concentration of nests.

While an infestation of concentrated nests can be dangerous to have in your yard, an even greater concern lies in the fact that these fire ants have the potential to move into recreational areas, affecting the use and enjoyment of these sites.

Due to the fact that fire ants are commonly found in the soil around the root balls of plants, it is likely that they have been introduced and spread through the transplanting of infested plants. Therefore, it is very important that you check the root system and attached soil of any plant that is being relocated. If you notice any ants, submerge the root system in water for an hour before moving the plant to its new location.

With multiple queens in each colony, fire ant nests can be very difficult to destroy. A helpful tip is to mix your insecticide with an attractant such as sugar. This may also be helpful when using diatomaceous earth to eliminate an infestation. As the ants must come in direct contact with the product in order for it to work, the attractant is helpful in drawing the ants to the powder where contact can occur. As well, in addition to lacerating their exoskeletons, consumption of DE by an insect will also help to lacerate them internally.

Red Lake Earth Diatomaceous Earth is often used as a natural insecticide and is especially effective against ants and other crawling insects. For more information on the use of diatomaceous earth for killing ants please see: How to Kill Fire Ants

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Termites: How to Identify an Infestation

Although not true of all species, termites are insects that can potentially be very destructive.

Termites, especially in Australia, are commonly known as “white ants” however, as a species, they are only distantly related to the ant and, in fact, are more closely related to cockroaches.

Termites have pale brown to white bodies with a darker head and no waist between their thorax and abdomen. The non-reproductive insects in the colony never develop wings, are blind, and have thin skin that makes them vulnerable to drying out. The reproductive individuals, on the other hand, have two pairs of wings, eyes and a thicker skin that better protects them from drying out.

Termites are similar to ants, bees and wasps in that they have segregated castes and divide labor among these casts. Similarly, they also take care of young collectively.

A termite colony can have a population ranging from several hundred to several thousand insects. These termites live and work together in order to survive. A colony contains nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both genders, often including several egg-laying queens.

They primarily feed on dead plant material including wood, leaf litter, soil and animal feces. However, termites may also feed on damaged paper, books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners and filtration systems. While most people view termites as destructive creatures, only about 10% of the estimated 4,000 species are considered pests that can seriously damage buildings, crops or plantations. In fact, most termites are considered to be ecologically important, as they have the ability to recycle wood and other plant matter.

Termites that do feed on wood structures, crops and other valuable personal property are of great concern.

The discovery of winged termites indoors is the most tell-tale sign that you have an infestation in your home.

Termite swarmers are attracted to light and can often be seen around windows and doors. Swarmers that emerge from stumps, woodpiles and other locations in the yard may not be of concern however, if winged termites are seen emerging from the base of a foundation wall or adjoining porches and patios an infestation is likely.

Another sign of an infestation is mud tubes extending over foundation walls, support pillars, etc.

These mud tubes are typically the diameter of a pencil and used by worker termites to safely travel back and forth from the colony to the structure. In order to determine whether the infestation is active, break open a tube and check for the presence of any workers. If the tube is in use then an active infestation is present. However, even if the tube is vacant this does not mean that you do not have an infestation, as termites will often abandon a tube while they are raiding other parts of the structure.

Rippled or sunken wall coverings may also be an indication of termite damage.

The appearance of a termite may sometimes be confused with that of an ant however you can differentiate between the two by looking closely at the insect. Termites have straight, uniformed waits and wings that are all equal in size while ants have elbowed antennae, constricted waits and fore-wings that are larger than their hind wings.

Termite damage can be distinguished from moisture damage and that caused by other insects in that bits of dried mud or soil will line the hollowed out areas where the termites have been feeding.

It is common for infestations to go unnoticed, even if the wood is exposed, as termites usually leave the outer surface of the material that they are feeding on in tact.

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Termites: Prevention and Treatment

Termite damage costs Americans more than $1 billion every year! Termites have the ability to enter through spaces that are as thin as a piece of paper and can infest every part of your home. Termite colonies never stop working and eating and will continue to eat away at your home 24 hours per day. It is therefore undeniably important to take preventative measures to protect your home as well as the necessary steps to eradicate termites in the case of an infestation.

Some preventative measures include:

    • Having your home checked for termites yearly as well as before buying or selling a home.

    • Avoiding wood to ground contact (a minimum of 6 inches should be left between any
      wood siding and the ground).

    • Treating any wood surface that is in contact with the ground.

    • Preventing excessive moisture from gathering under or adjacent to your home and
       improving surface drainage.

    • Cutting back trees, shrubs, vines and any other plant material that is near or on your
       home.

    • Removing any wood piles that exist near your home.

In the case of an infestation it is important to take immediate action.

Special skills are required in order to totally eradicate a termite infestation. Many points of entry for termites are difficult to access and identify therefore strong knowledge of building construction and specialized equipment is often needed. Masonry drills, pumps, large-capacity tanks, and soil treatment rods are needed in order to inject liquid pesticide, into the ground alongside the foundation, beneath concrete slabs, and within foundation walls.

It may be possible to treat a small termite problem yourself, however. For example, if a mailbox post, sandbox or other small wooden object not attached to the house is infested you may be able to solve the problem with a do-it-yourself product. Food grade diatomaceous earth has been suggested as a way to eliminate small infestations of termites. When it comes to a large infestation in your home, however, treatment is better left to professionals.

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Bird Seed: Common Pests

There are many pests that enjoy feeding on bird seed. Below is information to help you identify an infestation and what type of pest you may be dealing with.

Granary and Rice Weevils

Commonly referred to as ‘snout weevils’, Granary and Rice Weevils often infest bird seed in grain storage facilities before the seed is processed. Due to the fact that the larvae feed inside the grain, infestations are often only discovered when the adult weevils are seen exiting the grain through tiny holes. Granary and Rice Weevils are not harmful to humans and will not bite or sting. In addition to bird seed, Granary and Rice Weevils may also infest whole grains, rice, corn, millet, rye, beans and caked meal.

To check for an infestation of Granary or Rice Weevils, use a flashlight to exam your bird seed closely for any adult insects.

Maize Weevil

The Maize Weevil is a very common pest found in bird seed. This insect often infests the seed at the processing factory or pet store. Adult Maize Weevils have long snouts. They are reddish brown or black in color and often have tiny red spots on their backs. In addition to bird seed, Maize Weevils may also infest whole grains, rice, corn, millet, rye, beans, bird seed, and caked meal

To check for an infestation of Maize Weevils, use a flashlight to exam your bird seed closely.

Cigarette Beetle

Adult Cigarette Beetles are very small and oval in shape. They may be observed flying around when the light is low. In addition to bird seed, they may also infest rice, ginger, raisins, pepper, dates, various drugs, seeds, spices, dried flowers and other dried botanicals, tobacco products, upholstery, pasta, and cereal products.

 Indian Meal Moth

An infestation of Meal Moths may occur in stores, feed companies, manufacturers or originate at home. The moths lay their eggs in the seed where the larvae will consume the feed before turning into adult moths. These larvae look like tiny worms with black heads and will often leave the food and climb walls where they may be found suspended on silk webs. The adult moths will often fly around in the dark. In addition to bird seed, Indian Meal Moths may also infest grain and grain products, dried fruits, seeds, crackers, nuts, powdered milk, candies, dried red peppers, meal, cracked corn, flour, graham crackers, pasta and dry pet food.

To check for an infestation of Indian Meal Moths, look closely for the fine silk webbing that the moths spin in the feed.

In the case that your bird seed is infested, it is best to dispose of it immediately, as these pests can travel from your bird seed to flour, grains and other stored food products.

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