Scare Tactics and FOMO:

How to Avoid Clever Marketing Tricks and Keep a Level Head in a Spending-Surge Season.

Benjamin Franklin said:

“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”

We’ve all been there. The moment we acquire that which we want or need, it is replaced by the next best thing. Instead of feeling a sense of gratitude or accomplishment in such acquisition, we feel duped, less than, and insecure about our purchasing habits.

Whether or not we realize it, we are all subject to marketing strategies and tactics~ everything from our choice of milk to how technology fills our life~ serve to define us and our spending profile. We may even begin to feel as Franklin implied, that we are creating a vacuum. And especially now, in a season full of splurge-worthy sales, when it seems that every day is filled with a must-have mentality for the acquisition of that next-best-thing, is the very time we need to guard our mind and money, so as to avoid the proverbial rabbit hole of debt.

Advertisers use clever marketing strategies to create emotions within us that lead to Fear Of Missing Out, or even in extreme cases, a sense of harm or doom, if we do not purchase whatever idea they might be selling. These are called ‘scare tactics’, and are noted such because it works by taking away our power of reason. As succinctly stated by the University of Melbourne,

“Ads that tap into our emotional reaction to an issue, rather than just our rational or informational needs, are called “fear appeals.” They are named this way to jump-start us into action. They aren’t just about scaring or shocking us for the sake of it- it’s about using that fear to encourage us to change.”

Common examples of this might look like: ‘Don’t miss out’, Get it before it’s gone’, ‘Flying off the shelves’. These buzz words create a sense of panic in our brain leading us into an irrational, fear-based decision, rather than a rational, thoughtful need. Even if the item is a planned purchase, clever marketing can trick us into spending too much or spending in an untimely fashion.

Another ‘fear tactic’ of marketing that exploits Fear Of Missing Out is the ‘Buy 3, Get 1 Free’ type sale. Okay, do you really need 4 of the thing, or is it really just a way to trap you into overspending? You may rationalize that you are getting something for free, and while that may be true, you’ve also just been duped into spending triple on the one item you set out to purchase. Marketing tricks like these may temporarily fill a void with a ‘new purchase’ kind of joy, but that joy is quickly replaced by regret and fear when our budgets are not feeling the normal flex of living within our means.

So how can we avoid the traps of FOMO, overspending, and keep a level head? Cicero said:

“Frugality includes all the other virtues.”

Frugality, or the careful management of material resources and money, may seem a purely rational quality, borne out of checks and balances. But it is more than a mere mathematical exercise. If we don’t develop gratitude for what we already have, the ledger will never have enough zeroes, and we will find ourselves in constant want. Conversely, if we practice gratitude, learn to live within our means, make thoughtful purchases which require both saving and denial, then we are getting close to the algorithm as quoted by Cicero. Virtues help us to feel appreciation.

Gratitude helps us to make peace with missing out. We exercise gratitude when we take stock of what we already own, make lists for what we really need, and learn to use sales to our advantage rather than a paved road to debilitating debt. As George Lorimer wisely stated:

“It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t LOST the things that money can’t buy.”

HIDDEN HOME DANGERS: Electrical Hazards

What you need to know to keep your home and family safe.

Electricity. We depend on it, and yet take it for granted. We rely heavily on its stability, but think little of safety. Sadly, it confronts us when we are put in danger by it.

The U.S. Fire Administration reports just over 6% of all residential fires are electrical in nature, with an annual approximation of 24,000. That is nearly 66 electrical fires per day. What are the most common electrical hazards at home? How can you protect your home and your family from this hazard? And what should you do if an electrical fire does happen?

The most common electrical hazards are due to faulty wiring, stressed or overtaxed electrical circuits, exposure to water, outlets that are broken or exposing wiring, damaged or stressed cords, improperly matched light bulbs to wattage, appliance hazards, lack of or broken smoke alarms, and human intervention.

Protecting your home and your family is simply a matter of safety. Do not overload outlets, which can stress circuitry, or exceed recommended wattage allowances of lamps. This is a direct electrical fire hazard. Keep electrical cords clean, sorted, and free of debris, piles, or external heat sources which may ignite a fire. Check that appliances are working properly. Immediately respond to any odours or switch tripping, as these may be indicative of serious hazards. And it can not be overstated, check that smoke detectors are functioning properly, and replace batteries annually.

Despite the best safety measures, sometimes an unseen threat may result in an electrical fire. What should you do in case of an electrical fire? In short, remember, B,B,C,C.

  1. BREAKER: Disconnect electricity at the source: switch off the breaker, THEN unplug from the outlet, if this can be done safely. NEVER unplug an active wire that is compromised.
  2. BAKING SODA: Baking soda squelches an electrical fire by preventing it being fed more oxygen. NEVER, EVER use water on an electrical fire.
  3. CLASS C Fire Extinguisher: Only a Class C Fire Extinguisher should be used for an electrical fire, as fire extinguishers are rated for different purposes. Double check the rating on your fire extinguisher and familiarize yourself how to safely use it.
  4. CALL Emergency Services: Any fire can quickly get out of control. Be sensible, back away, and call for help. Emergency Services are trained how to safely deal with electrical fires.

As October is Fire Safety Month, why not make it an annual family activity to prepare mentally and physically in case of a fire. Testing detectors, checking wires, and reviewing and practicing safety measures and escape routes will educate and protect your home and family from this hidden home danger.

REMODELS, REMEDIATION, AND REMEDIES

HIDDEN HOME DANGERS: BLACK MOLD.

Mold is a fungus which grows and thrives in moist environments. Mold may take on various colors, which signify various types or stages of growth. In all its forms, it becomes dangerous when inhaled or ingested. It simultaneously grows on and decomposes organic matter.

Mold, especially black mold in particular, forms in your home in the presence of prolonged moisture. This can be anything from a poorly ventilated kitchen or bath, a pipe leak, or an extreme event producing water damage. Noteworthy too would be organic materials which may hold on to moisture such as expired food, old books or newspapers or other organic materials, like leather, wood, and straw.

While airborne spores have not necessarily been substantiated as dangerous to immediate health, many find black mold to be the cause of, at the very least, an allergen response, being as it were, your body’s first line of defense. Allergic responses would include, but not be limited to, coughing, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, sore throat, and rashes. In some, this can even lead to an extreme asthmatic response, which can become an emergency. More than that, those with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to symptoms and are at risk of fungal infections. In a post-pandemic world where nearly all of us have felt the effects of COVID-19, removing allergens and lung irritants is imperative, as many have developed lung and/or breathing issues. Where mold once posed no real threat may now be an entirely different ballgame.

While this foul-smelling fungus may seem imposing, it is easily treatable and requires minimal effort and expense to remove, provided it has not grown out of control (larger than 10 square feet), or is out of sight, in which case, professional remediation is a must. For manageable remediation, safety is imperative. It is noteworthy to remember that while removing black mold is simple, it does become more airborne, and thus poses a serious allergen to eyes, ears, nose, throat, and skin. Therefore, PPE is required, even if using the most natural solvents to remove.

You will need:

  • Protective Eyewear
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Clothing that can be sanitized or disposed
  • Rubber shoes that can be disinfected

Mold is classically known for its musty smell and clustered, spotted appearance, but can also appear as red or pink (generally in bathrooms). As you remove the mold, you will need plenty of ventilation as it becomes airborne, especially when applying solvents. Remove and throw away anything which can not be cleaned. And of course, before you expend time and energy cleaning, be sure you have first addressed that which has sourced the black mold (water leak, dampness, damage).

Effective treatments include:

  • Tea Tree Oil and Water Solution
  • Vinegar and Baking Soda Solution
  • Bleach and Water Solution
  • Hydrogen Peroxide and Water Solution

DO NOT CROSS-MIX SOLUTIONS! CHOOSE ONE.

Preventing mold is never absolute, but helpful measures would include having good ventilation, especially in baths, laundry, and kitchens, limiting the overall humidity in your home to 50%, by means of a dehumidifier if necessary, as well as dealing with any water issue, leak, or flooding PROMPTLY.

Keeping your home clean and dry both inside and out and keeping gutters clean will limit the moisture and mold potential. Keeping your home’s exterior mold and fungus free can also assist by decreasing the amount of airborne spores that may enter from your home’s central air unit or via window and door.

Being sure to address the source of any mold or fungus that can affect your home may take time, energy, and money, but it will be far worth the effort to keep your home and your family healthy, preventing costly remodels, remediation, and remedies.

How Drought Affects Your Home

Why Gutter Cleanings are essential~ even in a drought.

When weather conditions run dry, more is affected than just your lawn and plants. The trouble runs deeper and broader, affecting wildlife, ecosystems, soil, and foundations.

Wikipedia defines drought as: “an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation), surface water or ground water. A drought can last for months or years, or as few as 15 days. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region and cause harm to the local economy.”

Global Warming and extreme weather patterns are increasing drought potential. Even areas which do not usually succumb to drought are beginning to feel the effects. Not only does this affect the soil and plants, but also the economy and ecosystem. Specifically, it affects you as a homeowner. Soils dry and shift with drought, causing settling as gravity naturally seeks to fill in the cracks left behind by shrinking soil. Your home’s foundation may shift and settle into these, leading to cracks in foundation, structural damage, sticky windows and doors, and uneven, sloping floors.

Conversely, when it rains, clay-rich soil becomes expansive soil, trapping rain water, essentially flooding the soil and contributing to excessive run-off and flooding. This can lead to an even greater hazard if cracks have formed in the foundation. Now your home is primed for water damage and moisture-related issues.

While this devastation may sound frightfully out of control, there are measures you can take to protect your home (and your paycheck).

  • The first thing you will want to do is inspect your home. Whether you choose to do this yourself, or hire a professional (many offer free inspection), taking a thoughtful stroll around your home may highlight hidden dangers.
  • The next most important step is to GENTLY water the soil around your home…(think misting, not torrent). As long as there are no restrictions on water usage, keeping the soil moist around your foundation prevents caving or collapsing.
  • Next, consider your landscaping. If there are large trees near your foundation, guess who is going to win…NOT YOU. Tree roots will absorb more moisture, which is bad for your foundation. However, planting shade plants and shrubs will contribute to the prevention of soil evaporation.
  • Finally, clean your Gutters! As previously mentioned, rain after a drought oversaturates the soil, causing structural damage to your foundation walls. By cleaning your gutters, you are preventing this torrent of rain water from pooling and puddling near your foundation. This will also help to prevent the spread of algae to other surfaces of your home.

Professional Gutter Cleanings are extremely affordable, especially if you consider all the money saved ($$$$$) by preventing further structural damage to your home. While Gutter Guards are a helpful preventative option, they are not infallible, and still must be maintained to have smoothly flowing gutters.

Protect your investment! Schedule your Professional Gutter Cleaning with The Grime Fighters.

Back to School: A Lifetime Endeavour

As Summer stubbornly nears its end, September ushers in another year of school education. Young ones anxiously endeavour to expand their minds, growing and learning, shaping them into future adults.

As adults, we recognize that true education never ends. We constantly learn and grow from experiences, training, and life. Albert Einstein said:

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”

Education is important. It teaches us the necessities of how to live our best life. It helps us to make decisions, and improve our discernment, learning to establish values and ethics. As adults, we rely on these as we move forward and improve ourselves. Education is not limited to the classroom. It is only the foundation for learning as we grow older and wiser.

Einstein also said,

“I never teach my pupils, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn.”

At Grime Fighters, we echo those sentiments, providing conditions in which we train our crew, helping them to become skilled at their work. Each year we open the season with “Grime Fighter University”, whereby we train any new crew members, as well as improve the quality of our performance. All Grime Fighters benefit from this continuous training, as we consciously take strides to enhance our equipment, techniques, and cleaning agents, remaining as efficient, modern, and green-friendly as possible. We also make annual improvements to the rig. All of these upgrades mean education and training for our team, utilizing their individual skills and assets to help them grow as individuals, and as a team.

As a homeowner, all of this education benefits you. Using the latest technology, techniques, products, and training, gives you security in knowing that our team will treat you and your home well and with respect and professionalism, accurately employing these modern advances.

At Grime Fighters, we stand by the belief that you are never too old to learn something new.

Empathy for Enthalpy

We are all looking for ways to save money. Challenging our energy consumption thinking can really pay off.

Enthalpy, or the energy measured in thermodynamics, may seem a strange visitor to a discussion of your home’s energy consumption. But a brief breakdown of heating and cooling gains and losses will leave you well equipped to be a more energy-savvy consumer, and have a cleaner home, too.

Energy Consumption

It’s challenging to think of reducing energy consumption in the middle of summer’s heatwave. But there are small, individual choices we can make with great impact on our personal energy demand and the environment.

Problem: Rising population, rising cost of living, rising energy costs and consumption…Affects the environment.

“In the next 20 years…global energy consumption is expected to rise 40%”, according to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine.

According to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (anspblog.org), how we use energy affects our environment. Toxic fumes and harmful byproducts are the unseen evils of energy production and consumption. As is stated in their article, “Reduce Your Household Energy Use”: “When we consume less power, we reduce the amount of toxic fumes released by power plants, conserve the earth’s natural resources, and help protect ecosystems from destruction… Cutting back on energy consumption reduces the amount of electricity that power plants have to make.”

Solution: Changes in how we think and use energy.

As individuals, we can be more aware of how we use the energy we consume by making optimal use of appliances:

Keep refrigerator at 36-38 degrees Fahrenheit, limiting frequency and duration of door opening.

When using oven and stovetop, make larger meals to afford leftovers for another day, requiring less energy to reheat.

Unplug technology including TV’s, chargers, small appliances when not in use.

Wash a full load of laundry in cold water, whenever possible.

Air dry laundry as much as possible, reducing the need for the dryer, the 5th most energy-consuming appliance.

Heaters, the most energy-consuming appliance, are responsible for over 30% of home energy use. Addressing poor insulation and gaps contributing to energy loss are the main ways to reclaim, lowering heating costs.

Cooling appliances account for about 10% of home energy consumption, also being affected by poor insulation and gaps, leading to loss of cooled air.

The state of your windows accounts for nearly 30% of potential heating and cooling losses. Dirty panes, debris, cracks and gaps, and broken weather stripping all contribute to higher energy consumption, as your heating and cooling must work harder to maintain a temperate environment.

Overall, a cleaner home, inside and out, increases the quality of air you breathe inside and outside your home. It also has a direct bearing on the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems. Clean homes using clean, energy efficient appliances will work easier, saving you money as well as reducing energy consumption.

Professional House Washing protects your home from deterioration from elements, buildup of grime, bacteria, and fungus, which can work their way beneath your home’s exterior, ‘infecting’ and deteriorating the efficiency of your home’s energy.

Professional Window Cleaning likewise promotes better use of your home’s energy consumption. Clean windows allow more natural heat and light to enter your home, reducing incessant reliance on appliances and electric lighting.

There are many other appliances, electronics, and habits that affect your home’s energy consumption. While most of these depend on YOUR use and habits as a homeowner, why not depend on US to make the most of your heating and cooling energy expenditure, by scheduling a Professional House Wash and Window Cleaning Service.

With all of the “smart” technology available, let’s be smarter consumers, making better use of our energy consumption.

Economizing is a Community Mentality (Buy Local, or Bye, Local)

How you can economize by supporting local business.

The definition of economize is: to spend less; reduce one’s expenses. Economizing means: to practice economy; avoid waste or extravagance. Economizing is on everyone’s mind. When it comes to economizing around your home, reducing one’s expenses of home includes heating and cooling, as well as repair or replacement due to hastened degradation by elements or neglect.

A regularly maintained home by a local business supports economizing by keeping your home clean, therefore lowering potential for damage, degradation, and wasted energy. Instead it actually saves you money in the long run by reducing energy costs, repairs, allergens, accidents, and time and money spent endeavouring a more short-sighted plan of DIY. What is more, supporting your local business to clean and maintain your home means you have professionals trained to identify any potential problem areas around your home that might otherwise be missed.

Why support Local Businesses? Local businesses depend on community support to thrive. And these businesses take seriously the responsibility to care for the needs of their community. Such reciprocity feeds the community, keeping it strong and stable, providing jobs and personalized customer care.

Modern, but not Austere: For example, when my husband and I first married we lived across from a modest hardware store, owned and operated by two brothers. It was a delightful little store, the older gentlemen so eager to assist us with any question or issue we had. Sadly, that time came to an end. Replaced by warehouse style stores designed to save you a buck or two, what is gained in square-footage-supply and demand is lost in customer service and knowledge. Most queries for assistance end in blank stares and shrugged shoulders. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal in the midst of the information age, where a few google taps or alexa-proddings get you an instantaneous answer. But here is the tricky part: the broader knowledge of old school trade and service men has been denigrated to an inferiority to plastic and ones and zeros. Now, this requires extra time learning about the issue behind the DIY. If something goes wrong, its back to the drawing board (or google search). This is NOT the definition of economizing, or of avoiding waste.

If that sounds exhausting, we’re here for you. As a local business in the Lehigh Valley, we take pride in providing our customers community support by professional and friendly service, knowing that we, likewise, are supporting other local businesses of the Lehigh Valley. While we use modern equipment, tools, and practices, we won’t sacrifice the old-school-principles of kindness and professionalism. We are your neighbours, after all.

At Grime Fighters, we delight in giving back to our community. That’s why, for the month of August, we are offering our SUMMER BLOWOUT SPECIAL. Any service booked by August 31st but scheduled for September or October, will receive 15% OFF!

If you’ve already benefited from our services, you can still support our local business. In fact, according to signpost.com, “referrals count for 82% of new business growth and 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.” So if you are not currently in need of our services, you are currently in the know.

Support our local business by:

  1. Referring us to friends and family
  2. Supporting us on social media and online, and
  3. Leave a positive review with google.

These small gestures go a long way in building up local business and that means more savings for our customers. Economizing is a community mentality.

Making Amends

Using Negative Feedback to Make a Positive Change.

Nobody enjoys criticism. But constructive criticism can be helpful and transformative if it is 1) Valid, and 2) Honest. As a service company, we rely heavily on feedback to keep our finger on the pulse of the company. We ourselves must be open and honest to that feedback. While the majority of feedback IS POSITIVE, certainly, there are times that there is NEGATIVE feedback.

We so appreciate when that customer reaches out to us so that it can be a learning experience, or even better, a situation rectified by education and returning to satisfy the said issue. When a customer is not short-sighted so as to just air out their complaint in public forum, it can be a powerful force for good. It shows patience and faith and justice when an unsatisfied customer gives us an opportunity to MAKE AMENDS, to learn where we can improve, both in the service being provided, and in customer service.

This kind of feedback allows us to grow and improve as a company. It also serves to build a stronger community relationship by allowing each other the dignity to be human, to have a voice, to learn and grow together. As one customer recently stated: “You have taken a onestarexperience and turned it into a fivestarexperience.”

We so appreciate opportunities like these which help us to maintain our high standards as a company, and to maintain our five-star-quality rating.

When Is Fast Too Fast?

In a Post-Pandemic world, we may find ourselves living with one finger on the panic button, leaving us in a constant mindset of hurry. Or, we may have settled into the polar end of complacency and apathy. Life extremes have created an air of instant gratification, live for now mentality.

Marketing has exploited this trend with such catch phrases as “Express Overnight Shipping”, “While Supplies Last”, “Get Rich Quick”, “One Time Offer”, “Act Now”. Each of these phrases is designed to trigger a response. It sends a panic signal to our brain, triggering action without thinking…also known as Fear Of Missing Out.

Patience is a quality that has become somewhat of an endangered species. Panic and instant gratification can strip life of the ability to exercise patience, the ability to STOP, THINK, BREATHE, and to make a good decision that benefits more than oneself. As one quote says: “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” Waiting with a good attitude…a quality that takes practice, but benefits many.

In commerce, we are uber-aware of the constancy of supply and demand. Unfortunately, some businesses exchange supply and demand for safety. Instant gratification for consumers somehow eclipses the human element of supply or service. When risks like these cost human lives it is worth evaluating the standards which are thrust aside for the deadline or the dollar.

As Grime Fighters endeavours to be an ever safety-conscious company, questions may be raised about the quality and efficiency of our work. With a safety first policy, some jobs may seem to take longer then necessary, whereas others may seem to be hastily done. Some work may have circumstances which require special attention whereas other jobs may be straightforward. Also noteworthy is the safety of the technicians as they go about their work.

Recent customer feedback has expressed concern over how quickly some work has been accomplished. We’ve heard your feedback and we have implemented systems to ensure we spend the appropriate time relevant to the job. Also, our crew has doubled from last year, so many jobs take half the time as in previous years. These qualifiers can reassure you that you are getting the high quality service that you expect. We appreciate the patience of our customers as we grow and improve as a company. Know that our touchstone is that we will NEVER replace PRODUCTIVITY, MONEY, or SPEED for SAFETY. This should also reassure our customers that we take very seriously the quality of work that affects your home.

We are positive that our efforts in having a bigger-picture standard will serve to strengthen our company and our community.

Life In The Gutter

Leaves, dirt, saplings, and other life in your gutter can mean the destruction of your home.

At first glance, an overflowing gutter may look a bit comical. Packed with leaves, twigs, dirt, and other life, the task of carrying water away from your home may just be too tall an order. Bending and bursting, clogged gutters spill gallons of water to areas of your home vulnerable to erosion or absorption. And that is no laughing matter.

Gutter Cleaning may seem a simple enough task to DIY, and yet is easily forgotten or procrastinated. Unfortunately, the reminder usually comes in the form of another issue. Problems such as stained siding, bowed gutters, water pooling at the foundation, or worse still, dampness or leaking into cracked foundations, walls, ceilings, and basements. What was a simple job has now cascaded into a major problem.

Gutter Cleaning actually bears a huge impact on the health and life span of your home. Meant for the purpose of keeping your home clean and dry, left unmanaged, clogged gutters can actually reduce the life span of your entire home. That is bad for your wallet and bad for the planet! Repair, replacement, and renovation costs due to neglect far outweigh the small cost of a regularly maintained Professional Gutter Cleaning.

Advantages of a Professional Gutter Cleaning:

  1. DIY is not always cut and dry. Consider all the factors: ladder safety, having a safety partner, having tools while on a ladder, reaching without proper ladder contact, airborne debris causing eye and nose allergens, not to mention the time to properly do the job once you have obtained all of your materials, as well as running water (hopefully) through your unclogged gutter. Any issues could turn an afternoon job into a weekend project, costing you your precious time and energy.
  2. Professional Technicians are trained to look for areas of your home that may have damage, and issues that could lead to bigger problems. Knowledge is Power.
  3. Regular Maintenance of Gutters means a longer life span not only for your gutters, but also your roof, siding, foundation, fascia, and even the interior of your home.
  4. Regular Gutter Cleaning means your Roof and Siding will also stay cleaner longer, as moisture, debris, and algae will not have a resting place, and therefore a breeding ground in which to propagate. This also means a longer life for your roof, as shingles are a common food source for roof algae known as Gloeocapsa Magma.
  5. Keeping pooled and stagnant water away from your home also means less possibility of mold and mildew entering into your home, causing allergies and health issues.
  6. Cleaned, empty gutters serve to protect your home during some of the volatilities of the seasons, including heavy rainstorms in spring and summer, falling leaves in autumn, and ice damming in winter.
  7. Protect your investment. Long term regular care means less waste for the environment, and more money in your pocket.

Annual Professional Roof and House Washing coupled with Semi-Annual Professional Gutter Cleanings will help to keep your house and home pristine, clean, and dry. Professional Gutter Cleaning can be scheduled any time, but is essential prior to Spring as well as prior to and post Autumn. Don’t procrastinate or rely on DIY. Trust the Grime Fighters to keep your life out of the gutter! Get your FREE QUOTE NOW and schedule your Autumn Gutter Cleaning.