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Archive for September, 2017

Electric and Gas Furnace Cleaning: Similar Processes

As winter approaches, a forgotten element of our home comes back into our minds: the heater. Left unused for several months, you may be wondering if its use requires a little cleaning. As with any machine, regular maintenance lets you preserve your furnace longer and take advantage of its full efficiency. And the approach to winter is the perfect time for this big cleaning job, which will let you remove any accumulations of dust and debris. But how do you go about cleaning an electric or gas furnace? In both cases, we strongly recommend referring to an expert to avoid any improper handling and to ensure professional service.

Electric furnaces

Safe and easy to install, electric furnaces are popular for their versatility. The electric furnace can also be adaptable by adding an air conditioning system to it, and its air flow is highly controlled, allowing for tight management of the energy consumption.

From a maintenance perspective, you should aim for a complete cleaning at least once a year. This is recommended to be carried out by a professional, who will be able to handle all the parts with care and identify any damage to the machine.

The air filters should be cleaned first, unless they’re disposable, in which case they can simply be replaced. After that, focus on the ventilation system by carefully inspecting all the parts – wheels and motors. You should clean them thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner then a water jet to remove any accumulations of dust from them. It’s important to let them dry completely before putting them back in place.

Gas furnaces

Gas furnaces also have the advantage of versatility: going beyond simply heating the house, they also let you cook, feed your household, and even use your dryer. They’re also the most economical heating method.

When it comes to the maintenance of the machine, it’s similar to that of electric furnaces and the filters for the ventilation system. The difference lies in the elements to be observed. When cleaning a gas furnace, you should make sure that adequate pressure is maintained on the main supply system and the regulator. You should also be careful not to damage the safety controls and the ignition system.

The importance of the filters

For both electric and gas furnaces, the filter cleaning step is essential. Indeed, this is an opportunity to check the condition of your furnace. For example, you should analyze the condition of the ventilation pipes to unclog them if they’re obstructed and to make sure that there are no leaks. The same goes for the flow ducts, which should be checked for cracks. You should also carefully observe all the machine’s components to take note of any signs of deterioration.

When it comes to cleaning a heating device such as a furnace, you’re directly impacting the quality of the air you’re breathing inside. That’s why we recommend doing this cleaning quite regularly to ensure that the air stays healthy and fresh and is not polluted by accumulated dirt. In particular, this should be done before starting the furnace in the winter, but also before moving into a new house, after interior work or a disaster, or if you suffer from asthma or allergies. The cleaning of your furnace is also the opportunity to do a more complete inspection of the furnace to check its general condition. It’s therefore a good idea to rely on a professional to ensure the quality of this cleaning.

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How to Maintain Your Air Exchanger in the Summer

Air exchangers are being installed more and more in our homes, which are more and more airtight and tend to lack air. Generally used during the winter to keep the room temperature up while refreshing the air brought in from outside, air exchangers are used differently once the beautiful days arrive. Many owners of these ingenious devices wonder how to use their air exchangers once the summer comes. And with good reason: Air exchangers aren’t used the same way in the summer, because you’re mostly looking to filter the outdoor air while avoiding heating up the room. This is especially an issue for people with an air exchanger and an air conditioning system at home, to avoid wasting energy.

Adjust the settings

Before wondering about the maintenance of your air exchanger, you should adjust it to the temperature outside. Indeed, by continuously bringing in fresh air from outside into your home, these machines could potentially be bringing in more heat and humidity. You should therefore adjust the settings of your air exchanger by referring to the brand’s conditions of use. If possible, you should adjust the settings to switch to “recirculation” mode during the warm season. This effectively limits the entrance of moisture and lets the air circulate throughout the house.

Replace the filters

Some air exchangers come with replaceable filters, while others are permanent. In both cases, it’s important to note the replacement of the filters on your calendar each season, or more often if you live on a street with a lot of car and truck traffic. Replaceable filters should be replaced according to the instructions from the manufacturer, and for those that aren’t, you should also refer to the user manual to learn how to remove the filters. These should be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner before being washed with warm water and mild soap.

Clean the exchanger

Often considered one of the most neglected machines in the house, the air exchanger is one that must be maintained very regularly. For an exchanger to be able to filter and purify the air inside, it seems logical for it to be as clean as possible. You should therefore clean the exchanger core each season, especially before the summer, because the beautiful season comes with allergens, dust, and other pollutants.

Observe

Once all these elements have been taken into account, it’s important to observe the effect of your air exchanger on your interior. For example, the issue of moisture is important, and you should make sure to monitor the humidity level in your home and the impact of your air exchanger on it. The same goes for the air conditioner. If you notice that you tend to reduce the temperature more than usual in the summer, it’s best to see if the warm air isn’t being caused by the use of the air exchanger. In these cases, you might consider completely shutting off the air exchanger in the summer to avoid wasting more energy. As a reference, here are the humidity levels that you should aim to have in a house, depending on the temperature outside:

  • Outdoor temperature between 10°C and 20°C: approximate humidity level of 55%
  • Outdoor temperature between 0°C and 10°C: approximate humidity level of 50%
  • Outdoor temperature between -10°C and 0°C: approximate humidity level of 40%
  • Outdoor temperature between -20°C and -10°C: approximate humidity level of 35%
  • Outdoor temperature between -30°C and -20°C: approximate humidity level of 30%

Keeping your indoor environment fresh and ventilated is essential for a healthy home that will be kept in good condition for longer. Air exchangers are an excellent option for this, especially with increasingly insulated homes. In any event, consulting a professional is always recommended to ensure proper maintenance.

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Heat Recovery Air Exchanger: Regular and Careful Maintenance for Healthy Air

Modern homes come with their share of advantages and disadvantages. More insulated and airtight than ever in the name of saving energy, our homes retain heat and air better. The air in our interiors, where we spend a large portion of our time, isn’t always refreshed every 3 hours as recommended. Faced with this concern, which may have consequences for our health, the use of a heat recovery air exchanger addresses it by eliminating moisture, stale air, and pollutants. Everything is replaced by fresh, filtered air. The air inside is therefore refreshed, clean, and healthy. But if the quality of our air depends on a machine, what is involved in the maintenance of this machine?

Regular maintenance

More and more in demand due to the increase in the construction of new housing, we now find a wide variety of heat recovery air exchangers on the market. Whether cutting-edge or more basic, this machine works very well as long as it has been installed properly and remains well-maintained. Indeed, as they work with a filtration system, it’s necessary to clean the filters of air exchangers regularly to keep the air healthy.

Filters

These famous filters must be cleaned every two to three months, or more depending on the residential area – on a road with heavy traffic or near a wood-burning heater – or depending on the time of year (allergy season). Some machines – usually older ones – have replaceable filters that don’t need to be cleaned. For the newer models, you can easily remove the filter, which you can clean with a vacuum cleaner and mild soap before putting it back in place. Refer to the user manual to identify, remove, and reposition the filter.

Exhaust ducts

We will then proceed to the external air intake and the exhaust duct. After inspection, remove all the debris that is blocking the movement of the air, as well as the snow and ice in the winter. Do likewise for the internal air intake, which should be cleaned just as often. Don’t hesitate to use a vacuum cleaner with a small nozzle for this step. Some machines are connected to a condensation discharge duct, which can be found at the bottom of the device. For these, pour a large amount of hot water into the basin inside the air exchanger to make sure that it flows easily.

Recovery core and fan

Each machine consists of a plastic or aluminum recovery core. Be sure to clean it seasonally, especially before starting the heating in the winter. The cleaning of the core will depend on the type of machine, so it’s important to refer to the manual from the manufacturer to follow the right steps. That said, we generally suggest vacuuming the walls first to suck up all the accumulated dust. Then, you can soak it in soapy water. After rinsing it, let the core dry completely before replacing it. However, be careful not to soak the machine’s fan, its core, or its thermal wheel.

The main reason to purchase an air exchanger is to purify the indoor air and to ensure a healthy environment. Its efficiency is completely compromised when dust and dirt accumulate in it, hence the importance of its regular maintenance.

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Heat Pump Cleaning: How to Maintain the Filters

A heat pump is a device that transfers heat from one place to another. It can work as an air conditioner, a heating system, or even a water heater by extracting heat or cold from the ground or the air outside. Heat pump cleaning is therefore essential.

Its main advantage is that it provides more heat energy than it consumes electricity. However, it’s not sufficient for the harshness of the winters in Québec, so you’ll still need to install an additional heating system – whether oil or gas – to fill in for the heat pump below a certain temperature.

Caring for your heat pump

There are two types of heat pumps: the air-to-water split, which is quite rare and connected to the hot water heating system, and the air-to-air split, which is more common and connected in your homes to a hot air heating system.

To ensure its proper functioning, it’s important to perform regular maintenance on your heat pump. In particular, it’s important to clean the filters every month. Without this maintenance, dusty filters can impede the proper functioning of the device, degrade its performance, make the fan noisy, cause water leakage, or be a source of unpleasant odours. The filters can also be covered in mould and bacteria, which can cause asthma attacks in sensitive people, respiratory diseases, or lung infections.

This operation is simple to carry out. All you need to do is remove the filters and replace them or clean them with soap and water if possible. Avoid any other product.

The different types of filters

Fibreglass filters

These have been used for over 60 years! They aren’t washable and are the least effective but also the least expensive. You’ll have to replace them systematically. This will only cost you a few dollars each time, but they have a low performance and aren’t very eco-friendly.

Electrostatic filters

Thanks to their composition and a low electrical current, they capture the dust and particles present in the air, and most of them can be cleaned with soapy water. However, they quickly lose their effectiveness after several cleanings, and they need to be replaced after each season. A quality filter approved by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) will cost you $25 CAN.

Electronic filters

Their performance is much higher, and they make it possible to eradicate almost all the dust contained in the air. They can be cleaned, but this must be done frequently; ultrasonic cleaning makes them like new again. Besides the high price (around $250 CAN), the installation is also expensive, and the biggest downside is that they produce a small amount of ozone that can irritate people with asthma or breathing problems.

Pleated filters

Of variable thickness depending on their quality (25 to 100 mm), they offer great filtration quality, retaining up to 80% of the dust contained in the air. They should be cleaned every month with soapy water and replaced once a year. A new filter is – of course – more effective. These filters can be found in stores starting from $15 CAN depending on their thickness.

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters

This is the most effective system, filtering over 95% of impurities. It’s recommended for sensitive people with breathing problems or allergies. More than a filter, it’s a device independent from the heating system. Of course, at about $300 CAN per filter, it’s also an expensive solution.

Good to know

In any event, to make your filters last, avoid smoking, limit the number of rugs and carpets, and remove dust regularly.

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How to Clean an Air Exchanger: 3 Daily Actions

The insulation in houses helps improve the quality of life of the occupants, but by becoming increasingly airtight, homes are also experiencing more and more moisture problems and air pollution, as the air is no longer effectively renewed. To mitigate these risks, installing an air exchanger is a practical solution that gives you the ability to ventilate and filter your home. A network of ducts and air distribution grids is installed in all the walls and connected to an air exchanger that takes in the fresh air from the outside and expels the polluted air, allowing the whole house to breathe.

However, for your air exchanger to work properly, it requires daily maintenance, especially if your environment is particularly polluted, whether this is because of your geographical location or the lifestyles of your house (smoking, presence of pets, etc.).  

1 – Maintaining the air vents

A good indicator to know whether your air exchanger is working perfectly is the condition of your air vents. If they’re dirty, it’s time to clean them to protect your system and make it more effective.

  • Regularly check that nothing is preventing the air from circulating, such as leaves, small branches, snow, etc. for the exterior vents or dust, mould, insects, and other debris for the interior vents;
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to clean the vent and part of the duct;
  • Installing a filter on the interior vents (check that it’s compatible with your system) will ensure the optimal protection of your air exchanger, especially in the kitchen to retain the grease residue from cooking. Of course, you should also remember to clean these filters.

2 – Maintaining the filters

It’s recommended to maintain your air exchanger filters every 3 months, but if your home is in a more polluted area, such as near a frequently travelled road, you should repeat this operation even more regularly.

Remove your washable filters, dust them, clean them with mild soap and hot water, rinse them, and let them dry before putting them back in place.

If you have non-washable filters, follow the instructions in your user manual to replace them. Don’t hesitate to call on a professional if in doubt about what choice to make.

Whatever type of filter you have in your air exchanger, it’s essential to reposition it properly in its frame to prevent any air leakage. In addition, remember to reset your maintenance indicator light if you have one.

3 – Maintaining the exchanger components

This maintenance should be carried out at least once a year, preferably before the start of winter and the heating season.

  • Use a vacuum cleaner or a compressed air gun to clean the energy recovery core. Some models can also be cleaned with warm, soapy water, but it’s essential to reinstall them only once they’re perfectly dry;
  • For the fan, a dry cleaning is the only option; this is a fragile element, and you must be careful not to affect the balance of the blades;
  • The basin and the exhaust duct can be washed with soapy water. Check the level of water in the drainage duct and that it is flowing properly through the drain pipe.

Good to know

It’s recommended to rely on specialized companies to clean the ducts that snake throughout your whole house, since only the right equipment allows for a real scouring.

Generally speaking, and to ensure the longevity of your system, maintenance carried out by professionals every 3 years will ensure optimal use.

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Air Conditioner Cleaning: Doing the Exterior Maintenance

People have always sought to protect themselves from extreme heat. From the prehistoric humans who took refuge in the coolness of the caves to the water circulation in the walls of the Romans or the first Chinese fans, comfort solutions have never stopped developing. Today, most homes have an air conditioning system. If their effectiveness no longer needs to be demonstrated, the proper functioning of such devices depends largely on their maintenance, including their exterior maintenance. Air conditioner cleaning is therefore essential.

Choosing a central air conditioner

Depending on your needs and whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, you can find different types of air conditioners, some individual, others serving your whole house through a series of ducts snaking through the walls that connects your indoor central heating to the compressor placed outside.

The advantage of central air conditioning is that it’s designed to both cool and heat your home. The affordable prices of these systems, coupled with a relatively cheap and stable electricity rate, have practically tripled the number of air conditioners in Canadian households over the past 25 years. The lifespan of your wall-mounted air conditioner generally varies between 12 and 15 years. Of course, its efficiency and durability depend above all on the maintenance that you perform on it.

The interior maintenance of your air conditioner

While it’s not essential to rely on a professional for the routine maintenance of your air conditioner, this is nevertheless strongly recommended to avoid any missteps. Consider regularly inspecting and dusting all the components for optimal performance and to avoid premature wear.

The filters can be removed, washed carefully with warm, soapy water, and perfectly dried before being put back in place. For non-washable filters, replace them once they’re too worn-out by referring to the instructions from the manufacturer.

Don’t forget that the heater fan should also be cleaned and lubricated if necessary. Take advantage of this opportunity to check its rotation speed and adjust it so that it can work at full capacity.

The exterior maintenance of your wall-mounted air conditioner

It’s essential to consider the exterior part of your air conditioning system. This is more easily confronted with dirt (leaves, insects, mould and other fungi, etc.), and regular cleaning is required for the proper functioning of your device.

Check that your exterior filters aren’t blocked by debris that can negatively impact the air circulation in your home and that risks eventually damaging the compressor. Wash them or replace them in the same way as the interior filters.

A vacuum cleaner or a brush will allow you to remove the biggest dirt in the exterior coil, and the use of a garden hose will complete this essential cleaning. If there’s still debris, don’t hesitate to call in a competent professional. The fans in the exterior block must also remain clean and lubricated, especially since they’re exposed to the elements.

Good to know

Do a big cleaning between the seasons, before the periods of extreme cold or excessive heat, so that your air conditioner can run at full capacity. Use a special duct sealant or high-temperature duct tape to ensure the impermeability of your system and reduce or even eliminate air loss. A non-maintained air conditioner can cause real health concerns. Unhealthy and polluted air can have serious repercussions on your respiratory system, especially if you have asthma. It’s highly recommended to rely on qualified professionals if in doubt about the proper functioning of your installation.  

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Spring Cleaning: The Things Not to Be Missed Room by Room!

Cleaning your house as summer approaches is almost inevitable for all families. The spring cleaning is an institution all over the world. It lets you refresh your interior before the beautiful days by airing out the various rooms and cleaning them from top to bottom.

1 – Air out the bedrooms

We now know that the air inside is more polluted than the air outside. To regain healthy air, it’s therefore important to air out the house properly. Given that we spend most of our time in the bedroom, it’s necessary to air out this room in priority.

On a nice day, open the windows up wide and take out your blankets, pillows, and duvets so that they can take in the air and the sun. Take advantage of this opportunity to clean your bedding.

Dust everywhere, not forgetting the headboard, switches, and lights. Vacuum then mop, and you’ll be all set.

An extra tip: You can place a packet of lavender fabric on your bed or in your closets to sanitize and diffuse a delicate odour of Provence.

2 – Clean the bathroom

In principle, the bathroom is equipped with a CMV, but for greater effectiveness, and if it has a window, don’t hesitate to open it up wide, especially if you’re using industrial household products.

To do the spring cleaning in the bathroom, you can start by cleaning the tile joints by removing the mould, then the shower panes. Clean the taps with vinegar and baking soda if you prefer natural and biodegradable products. Finally, remove the dust with a damp sponge, then dry everything with a towel. Finish with the floor (vacuum and mop).

3 – Clean the kitchen

In the winter, you don’t consume the same products as in the summer, especially if you prefer to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. Doing the spring cleaning in the kitchen therefore involves emptying the cupboards and storing what you no longer need (food that is consumed very hot, canned goods, etc.). Take advantage of this opportunity to remove the crumbs and check that no insects have gotten into your flours and other cereals or cookies.

Once the cupboards and other storage areas have been emptied and cleaned, scrub the doors with a microfibre cloth to remove the dust. Then, clean the range hood; you can use white vinegar to degrease it.

The oven and the hobs can also undergo a deep cleaning; this will be an opportunity to check the burners if you have a gas stove.

Finish with the sink (you should never start by cleaning the sink because you’ll regularly need your sponge and water, so you’ll be getting it dirty throughout your big cleaning).

Lastly, vacuum then mop (with water, black soap, and white vinegar) the floor.

Finally, you can work on the rooms that are easiest to clean – that is, the living room and the dining room (which are less dirty in principle). For this, you just have to dust, put everything away, vacuum, then mop.

Once your spring cleaning is done, you can approach the summer in a fresh and healthy atmosphere. Then, all you have to do is enjoy the beautiful days in your clean home!

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Make Your Own 100% Natural Home Cleaning Product: What Are the Ingredients?

Being “eco-friendly” and liking cleanliness aren’t two incompatible things! Do you want to disinfect your home while using healthy, eco-friendly products? Why not make your own natural home cleaning product? Here, we let you discover the most effective ingredients for preparing your own product.

1 – Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a great product for cleaning, disinfecting, and making surfaces shine. It’s a denatured version of methylated spirits (the odour is less strong). If you want to clean and disinfect a floor, just dilute a glass of rubbing alcohol in 1 litre of water. In addition to its cleaning action, the alcohol helps speed up the drying. It can also be used as is by soaking a cloth in it.

Rubbing alcohol is therefore an excellent ingredient for making a natural home disinfectant because it has bactericidal properties. However, be careful: it’s flammable and must be completely rinsed, especially if you decide to disinfect products that will be put into the mouth (cutlery, toys for babies, etc.).

2 – White vinegar

White vinegar is undoubtedly the number-1 eco-friendly, non-toxic, biodegradable, and economical cleaning weapon. It has a multitude of advantages, including disinfecting powers. White vinegar can therefore be found in most “100% natural cleaning product”-type preparations.

3 – Essential oils

Some essential oils have disinfecting and/or antibacterial properties, in addition to their pleasant smell. They therefore reinforce the effectiveness of homemade natural products. Here are some interesting examples:

  • Ho wood essential oil: antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasite, and antiviral;
  • Bergamot mint essential oil: antiseptic, deodorizing, and insect-repellent;
  • Lemon essential oil: antimicrobial;
  • Eucalyptus globulus essential oil: antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-parasite.

4 – Baking soda

Much like white vinegar, baking soda is a key ingredient in eco-friendly cleaning preparations. Among other things, baking soda helps:

  • Absorb bad smells;
  • Combat allergens;
  • Clean (surfaces, laundry, silverware, etc.).

It is often combined with white vinegar (which creates a foam that effectively cleans and disinfects).

5 – Making a natural home cleaning product

Your choice of ingredients depends on what you want to clean and disinfect.

Versatile home disinfectant

Mix 350 mL of water and 150 mL of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Just add 5 drops of essential oil of lemon, and you’re all set. You’ll be able to keep your product for around a week.

Disinfecting a carpet

Create a paste by mixing white vinegar and baking soda, then spread it on the carpet. Let act for 15 minutes (a foam should form that lets you remove the dirt while disinfecting). Clean the area with a damp sponge, focusing on the most stubborn places. Dry everything with a dry washcloth or a hair dryer set to low.

Disinfecting a bathroom

Pour 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of essential oil of tea tree into a spray bottle. Shake it all up, then spray the walls of your bathroom. You can then brush everything to remove any invisible dirt. This also works with a mixture made of 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of fine salt, a drop of white vinegar, another drop of liquid soap, and a little water.

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Cleaning Antique Furniture and Breathing New Life into It

It’s not enough just to clean antique furniture to breathe new life into it; in principle, you should follow several steps to successfully give it a new lease on life. Whether you want to restore it or you’re wondering how to go about cleaning antique furniture, here are the most important steps to achieve satisfying results.

1 – Remove the wax from the furniture

Is your antique furniture waxed and damaged? In this case, you’ll need to remove the wax so that you can then reapply a layer of clean and healthy wax.

For this first step, begin by washing the surface with warm water and a little cleaning product, then rinse. If your furniture tends to darken in contact with water, use turpentine instead.

2 – Wash the antique furniture with water

Was your furniture stored in a garage, an attic, or any other dusty room? To clean your antique furniture effectively, place it outside or in a room where you can get the floor wet, then prepare a strong wash with hot water. With a wet sponge, clean it with plenty of water (caution: it must be water-resistant). Scrub the surface with a houndstooth brush, then rinse fully with clear water. Let your furniture dry, then continue the restoration (with a stripping and waxing, for example).

3 – Strip the antique furniture

To effectively strip a piece of furniture using a less aggressive product than the ones that can be found in stores, you can make your own stripping paste:

   Pour 200 grams of flour into 1 litre of water and cook while stirring. As soon as you feel the paste thickening, turn off the heat and let cool;

   In another container, pour 200 grams of detergent into a litre of warm water, then mix everything with the paste made from the flour; you’ll get a gel. Apply this gel to your furniture and let act for a few hours: the paint will be thoroughly stripped.

4 – Stain the wood

There are different stains for wood:

   Alcohol-based stains;

   Water-based stains;

   Waxing stains;

   Staining varnishes, also known as varnished stains;

   Staining waxes (which wax more than waxing stains).

Thanks to these products, you’ll be able to give a beautiful colour back to your wood, but before that, you’ll need to dust, clean, and strip the furniture.

Once you’ve chosen your stain, test it on a hidden part of the furniture; that way, you’ll control the result after drying. If the stain is suitable, apply the stain using a flat brush in the direction of the wood fibres with an even thickness. Let dry, then sand with fine-grained sandpaper. If it seems necessary, you can apply a second and then a third coat of stain.

If you don’t choose a waxing stain, then you’ll have to apply a coat of wax to protect your antique furniture. After that, you’ll just need to clean it from time to time with a microfibre cloth to remove the dust. Try not to put glasses on the wood and protect it from moisture; without these precautions, your furniture risks getting stained despite the protective layer of wax.

Is your antique furniture valuable, and do you want to clean it while making sure not to damage it? You should maybe rely on a specialized cleaning company; the results will be guaranteed, and you’ll be sure not to damage a nice piece of furniture.

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