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Protecting Your Home From Lightning

As we approach storm season, it’s important to consider the safety of our homes. Lightning storms can be both beautiful and dangerous, and it’s crucial to take steps to protect our homes and ourselves during these events.

One of the first things you can do to keep your house safe during a lightning storm is to ensure that all of your electrical systems are properly grounded. This includes your electrical panel, as well as any sensitive electronic equipment you may have in your home. Surge protectors can also be a good investment, as they can help protect your devices from power surges caused by lightning strikes.

Make sure to unplug any non-essential electronics during a storm. This can help prevent damage to your devices if there is a power surge, and can also reduce the risk of electrical fires in your home.

Another essential step in keeping your house safe during a lightning storm is to ensure that your roof and gutters are well-maintained. Lightning can cause fires if it strikes a roof, so your roof must be in good repair. Additionally, clogged gutters can create a fire hazard if struck by lightning; so be sure to keep them clear of debris.

Finally, stay safe inside your home during a lightning storm. This means avoiding the use of corded phones, as well as staying away from windows and doors. If you have a basement or storm shelter, that can be a good place to wait out the storm.

Taking these steps can help keep your house and your family safe during a lightning storm. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to extreme weather, so take the time to prepare your home before the storms arrive.

Branch Services is here to help if you have suffered lightning damage or would like to assess how prepared you are for a storm. Give us a call today at 631.467.6600.

Summer Safety Tips

Summer Safety

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor activities and enjoying the backyard with family and friends. However, it’s important to prioritize safety to ensure that everyone has a great time without any accidents or injuries. Here are some essential tips for ensuring summer backyard safety:

1. Pool Safety: If you have a pool in your backyard, it’s crucial to have proper safety measures in place. This includes installing a fence around the pool area, using a pool cover when the pool is not in use, and ensuring that children are always supervised when near the pool.

2. Grilling Safety: Barbecues and grilling are synonymous with summer, but it’s important to follow safety guidelines when using a grill. Keep the grill away from any flammable materials, never leave it unattended, and make sure it’s fully cooled down before storing it.

3. Sun Protection: When spending time outdoors, especially during the peak sun hours, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s harmful rays. This includes wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats, seeking shade when possible, and staying hydrated.

4. Child Safety: If children will be playing in the backyard, ensure that the play area is free from any potential hazards such as sharp objects, toxic plants, or tripping hazards. It’s also a good idea to set boundaries and rules to help prevent accidents.

5. Insect Protection: In many regions, summer brings an increase in pesky insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. Use insect repellent and consider using citronella candles or other natural repellents to create a bug-free zone in your backyard.

6. Fire Safety: Whether it’s a bonfire, fireworks, outdoor candles, or a barbecue grill, fire safety is crucial. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, never leave a fire unattended, and ensure that all flames are fully extinguished before leaving the area.

By following these simple safety tips you can ensure that your summer backyard gatherings are fun, enjoyable, and—most importantly—safe for everyone involved. Whether you’re hosting a barbecue, pool party, or simply enjoying a relaxing day outdoors, prioritizing safety will allow you to make the most of the summer season.

Mold on Houseplants

Houseplants are a great way to add some greenery to your home, and they can act as air filters for the air we breathe, but sometimes they can fall victim to mold growth. Mold can be harmful to both plants and people, so it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. Here are some tips for removing mold from houseplants.

1. Identify the Mold

Before you start removing the mold it’s important to identify what type of mold it is. Some types of mold are harmless, while others can be toxic. If you’re not sure what type of mold is growing on your plants, it’s best to consult with a professional.

2. Isolate the Plant

Once you’ve identified the mold, it’s important to isolate the affected plant from other plants in your home. This will prevent the mold from spreading to other plants.

3. Remove the Mold

To remove the mold, use a damp cloth or paper towel to gently wipe away the mold from the leaves and stems of the plant. Be sure to dispose of the cloth or paper towel immediately after use to prevent the mold from spreading.

4. Treat the Soil

Mold can also grow in the soil of your houseplants, so it’s important to treat the soil as well. You can do this by removing the top layer of soil and replacing it with fresh, clean soil.

5. Increase Air Flow

Mold thrives in humid environments, so increasing air flow around your plants can help prevent mold growth. You can do this by opening windows, using a fan, or moving your plants to a more ventilated area.

6. Monitor Your Plants

After removing the mold, it’s important to monitor your plants for any signs of mold regrowth. If you notice mold growing on your plants again, it may be a sign of an underlying issue, such as overwatering or poor ventilation.

In conclusion, removing mold from houseplants is important for both the health of your plants and your own health. By identifying the mold, isolating the plant, removing the mold, treating the soil, increasing airflow, and monitoring your plants, you can help prevent mold growth and keep your houseplants healthy and thriving. 

The only way to ensure your home is completely free from mold is to bring in an expert here at Branch Services so that we can check your walls and vents. It should bring you some relief though, to know there are some things you can do to prevent or remove mold in your home!

Spring Maintenance Checklist

Spring is a time of renewal and rejuvenation, and it’s also the perfect time to take care of some important home maintenance tasks. Here are a few tasks to add to your to-do list this spring to ensure your home stays in great shape throughout the year.

1. Inspect Your Roof

Start by checking your roof for any signs of damage or wear. Look for cracked or missing shingles, as well as any signs of water damage. If you’re not comfortable climbing onto your roof, consider hiring a professional to inspect for you. Catching small leaks can help prevent large water-related disasters later!

2. Check Your Gutters

While you’re inspecting your roof, take a look at your gutters as well. Make sure they’re not clogged with debris, and that they’re securely attached to your home. If you do find any clogs, clear them out to prevent water damage.

3. Service Your HVAC System

Spring is the perfect time to have your HVAC system serviced. Have a professional come out to inspect and clean your system, and replace any worn-out parts. This will help ensure your system is running efficiently and will keep your home comfortable all year long.

4. Clean Your Windows

Winter weather can leave your windows looking dirty and dingy. Take some time to clean them inside and out. You’ll be amazed at how much brighter and cleaner your home will look.

5. Clear Your Yard

Winter weather can leave a lot of debris in your yard, including fallen branches and leaves. Take some time to clear out any debris and trim any overgrown bushes or trees. This will not only make your yard look better, but it will also help prevent any potential safety hazards.

By taking care of these important spring maintenance tasks, you can help ensure your home stays in great shape throughout the year. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve taken steps to protect your investment.

If you’re unsure about the condition of your HVAC system, suspect you have moisture problems in your home, or think your chimney may be unsafe, call Branch Services today at 631.467.6600 to get on the calendar now for some expert assistance. We’ll send a home inspector to assess your situation and put you on the fast track to enjoying your home and outdoor living space.

Preventing Mold in the Bathroom

As homeowners, we all want a clean and hygienic bathroom. However, one of the most common problems that many of us face is the growth of mold in our bathrooms, which can be unsightly and harmful to our health. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent mold growth in your bathroom. Here are some tips:

1. Keep your bathroom well-ventilated: Mold thrives in damp and humid environments, so it is essential to keep your bathroom well-ventilated. You can do this by opening a window or running the exhaust fan while you shower or bathe. This helps to remove excess moisture from the air and prevent mold growth.

2. Regularly clean and dry your bathroom: Mold needs moisture to grow, so it is important to regularly clean and dry your bathroom. Wipe down surfaces with a dry cloth after use, and regularly clean your bathroom with a mildew-resistant cleaner to prevent the growth of mold.

3. Fix leaks promptly: Leaks in your bathroom can lead to the accumulation of moisture, which can promote mold growth. Be sure to fix any leaks promptly to prevent this from happening.

4. Use a dehumidifier: If your bathroom is particularly humid, you may want to consider using a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. This can be especially helpful in preventing the growth of mold.

5. Avoid carpeting or rugs in your bathroom: Carpeting or rugs can easily trap moisture and promote mold growth. Instead, opt for tile or vinyl flooring, which are more mold-resistant and easier to clean.

By following these simple tips you can prevent the growth of mold in your bathroom and keep your home clean and hygienic. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!

Soot and Smoke Removal: Tips for Cleaning up After a Fire

A fire in your home can be a devastating experience, and dealing with the aftermath can be extremely difficult. Soot and smoke can leave behind a mess that’s not only unsightly but also potentially hazardous to your health. If you’re dealing with soot and smoke after a fire, it’s important to act quickly to remove it from your home. Here are some tips for cleaning up after a fire.

Wear Protective Gear

Before you start cleaning up, it’s important to protect yourself. Soot and smoke can contain harmful particles that can be dangerous to inhale. Make sure to wear protective clothing—including long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a mask or respirator. This will help to minimize your exposure to any harmful substances.

Open Windows and Doors

The first step in cleaning up after a fire is to open all windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate throughout the room. This will help to remove any lingering smoke and soot particles from the air. You may also want to consider using fans to help circulate the air.

Vacuum up Loose Soot

Once you’ve opened up the room, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to suck up any loose soot or debris. This will help to minimize the amount of soot that settles on surfaces and make the cleaning process easier. Make sure to vacuum all surfaces, including walls, floors, and furniture.

Wipe Down Surfaces

After vacuuming, use a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces and remove any remaining residue. This will help to remove any soot that didn’t get picked up by the vacuum. Make sure to use a clean cloth for each surface, and rinse the cloth frequently to avoid spreading soot around. Remember that soot reaches places you wouldn’t think it could, like inside closed cabinets, and under dishes and glasses, so you’ll want to empty every cabinet out and clean inside.

Use Specialized Cleaners for Stubborn Stains

For more stubborn stains you may need to use a specialized cleaner. There are many products on the market designed specifically for cleaning up after fires, such as soot removers and smoke odor eliminators. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully, and test the product on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn’t cause any damage.

Consider Hiring a Professional Restoration Service

If the damage is extensive, or if you’re not comfortable cleaning up yourself, you may want to consider hiring a professional restoration service like Branch Services. We have the equipment and expertise needed to clean up after fires and ensure that your home is safe and habitable once again.

In conclusion, dealing with soot and smoke after a fire can be a daunting task, but by following these tips you can make the process easier and more effective. Remember to wear protective gear, open windows and doors, vacuum up loose soot, wipe down surfaces, use specialized cleaners for stubborn stains, and consider hiring a professional restoration service if needed. With patience and persistence you can restore your home to its pre-fire condition and move forward from this difficult experience.

Why You Should Consider a Home Remodel

As homeowners we all have a certain vision for our living spaces. Whether it’s a dream kitchen, a luxurious bathroom, or an open-concept living area, we all have something in mind that we’d like to change or improve upon. But when it comes to actually making those changes, many of us are hesitant to take the plunge. After all, a home remodel can be a significant investment of time, money, and energy. However, there are many reasons why you should consider a home remodel, and here are just a few:

  1. Increased Comfort and Functionality: A home remodel can improve the functionality of your living space and make your home more comfortable and enjoyable to live in. Perhaps your kitchen is too small and cramped, or your bathroom lacks storage space. A remodel can help you create a space that meets your specific needs and makes your daily routine more efficient and enjoyable.
  2. Increased Home Value: A home remodel can also increase the value of your property. Whether you’re planning to sell your home in the near future or not, a remodel can help you maximize your investment and increase your home’s resale value. Certain home renovations can yield a return on investment of up to 80% or more.
     
  3. Energy Efficiency: A remodel can also help you improve your home’s energy efficiency. This can include upgrading appliances, installing new windows and doors, or adding insulation. Not only will this help you save money on your utility bills, but it can also make your home more environmentally friendly.
  4. Aesthetics: Finally, a home remodel can simply improve the aesthetics of your living space. Perhaps you’re tired of outdated fixtures or bland color schemes. A remodel can help you create a space that reflects your personal style and makes you feel proud to call your house a home. In conclusion, a home remodel can offer many benefits, from increased comfort and functionality to improved home value and energy efficiency. While it can be a significant investment, it’s important to remember that a remodel can also be a worthwhile one.

    So if you’ve been considering changing your living space, now is the time to take the plunge and start planning your dream remodel. Call Branch Services today at 631.467.6600 to get started on your new project or reserve your spot this spring!

Lead Abatement

Lead has proven to be a dangerous substance and as such, it is vital, particularly during renovations, that it be removed carefully and completely. 

Lead abatement is the process of removing or reducing the level of lead in a home or business. When lead abatement is done in a home, the process is designed to permanently eliminate lead paint-based hazards. These work practices are important to prevent children and adults alike from developing lead poisoning. Even pets may be in danger from the presence of lead. The only way to prevent lead poisoning is to remove lead from the environment. Once the lead is abated, the lead risk is gone and a home can be considered “lead safe”.

Renovation and Lead

In houses built prior to 1978, lead abatement activities are very important when any kind of renovation is taking place. Paint chips or even the lead dust from sanding lead paint can create an extreme hazard leading to elevated blood lead levels. During the renovation, repair, and painting of these homes, it is important to have a lead abatement contractor work on the job. An experienced lead risk assessor should be present to determine if lead paint stabilization, paint abatement, or a full lead abatement project needs to occur. 

Lead is not only dangerous when swallowed. It is also dangerous when it is inhaled. That means that even if the paint is not peeling it can be a problem. Lead paint is very dangerous when it is being stripped or sanded and lead particles fill the air.

The work performed during lead paint removal can be extremely dangerous and difficult. The EPA requires individuals and firms who perform abatement projects in pre-1978 target housing and child-occupied facilities to be certified and follow specific work practices.

If you decide to attempt to tackle this dangerous project on your own you can look to our previous blog posts for tips on the best way to contain and remove lead-based paint. However, it is highly recommended that you consider hiring a Certified RRP (Renovation, Repair, and Painting), Contractor. Remember, ANY dust leftover from your renovation can be a risk to your family and pets, so take this risk seriously and give us a call if you have questions about your work or need lead abatement completed on your property. 

Asbestos Roof Shingles: Are They Problematic?

Asbestos roof shingles were once marketed as a supreme service. Today, it is an infamous public health concern if not handled properly. Asbestos roof shingles are made from fibers that are an effective insulator and create stronger plastic, paper cloth, and other materials. The downside? The danger of asbestos, as found by The Environmental Protection Agency, is that exposure can cause a greater chance of developing harmful health effects such as lung disease.

Why was asbestos used in roof shingles? For many reasons. A few of these were:

· Durability

· Lightweight

· Inexpensive alternative

· Fireproof

The presence of asbestos in your home is not necessarily hazardous. What will create hazardous living conditions will depend on if the material becomes damaged, leading to asbestos becoming airborne. This will cause the release of fibers that can cause a health hazard.

Dangers of Asbestos Removal

Most state and local ordinances have laws governing asbestos shingles and their removal. Disposal by anyone other than a licensed and certified asbestos contractor may be prohibited. Additionally, if you are looking to install an AC and your home has asbestos roof shingles it is important to let your service provider know. Installing an AC in a home with asbestos roof tiles will not necessarily cause any immediate concerns. The concerns will only arise if the tiles are not in pristine condition. If the tiles are in like-new condition they can be ignored for the time being, but eventually, they will need to be replaced.

If you are unsure of the condition of your asbestos roof tiles or are looking to remove asbestos, call us at Branch Services, a certified asbestos roofing and siding company. Just be sure to let us know asbestos will be involved so we can prepare!

Mold in HVAC Systems: What You Need to Know

Mold is a common problem in many homes and buildings, with HVAC systems being a prime breeding ground for these harmful microorganisms. In this blog post, we’ll explore what causes mold in HVAC systems, how to identify it, and what you can do to prevent it.

What Causes Mold in HVAC Systems?

Mold thrives in warm, damp environments, making HVAC systems an ideal growing place. When moisture builds up in your heating and cooling system it can create the perfect conditions for mold to grow. There are several reasons why moisture may accumulate in your HVAC system, including:

  1. Poor Ventilation: Without proper ventilation moisture can build up in your HVAC system, creating an ideal environment for mold growth.
  1. Leaky Ductwork: Leaks in your ductwork can allow moisture to seep into your HVAC system, creating a perfect breeding ground for mold.
  1. Dirty Air Filters: When air filters become dirty or clogged they can reduce airflow and trap moisture in your HVAC system.

How to Identify Mold in HVAC Systems

Identifying mold in your HVAC system can be difficult, as it often hides in hard-to-reach places. However, there are some signs to look out for that may indicate a mold problem, including:

  1. Musty Odors: If you notice a musty odor coming from your HVAC system it could be a sign of mold growth.
  1. Visible Mold: If mold grows on or around your vents, ductwork, or HVAC unit, you likely have a mold problem.
  1. Allergy Symptoms: If you or members of your household experience allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, or itchy eyes when your HVAC system is running, it could be a sign of mold growth.

Preventing Mold in HVAC Systems

Preventing mold in your HVAC system requires regular maintenance and attention. Here are some steps you can take to prevent mold growth:

  1. Change Your Air Filters: Regularly changing your air filters can help prevent moisture buildup and reduce the risk of mold growth.
  1. Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance: Getting your HVAC system regularly inspected and maintained by a professional can help identify and prevent mold growth.
  1. Improve Ventilation: Improving ventilation in your home can help reduce moisture buildup in your HVAC system and prevent mold growth.
  1. Seal Leaks: Sealing leaks in your ductwork can help stop moisture from getting into your HVAC system while preventing a breeding ground for mold.

In conclusion, mold in HVAC systems can be a serious problem that poses health risks to you and your family. By taking preventative measures and being vigilant for signs of mold growth, you can keep your home’s HVAC system mold-free and healthy.