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Spring Home Maintenance To-Do List

spring home maintenance

When spring arrives, many of us are thinking of spring cleaning and home improvement projects such as beautifying the property, painting inside and out, refurbishing outdoor living spaces, and more. But spring is also a good time for home maintenance. Here’s a spring home maintenance to-do list to make sure everything at your residence is in working order and ready for a long-awaited summer of recreation and leisure.

Spring Home Maintenance To-Do List:

  • Check to see that your air conditioning system is functioning at its optimum level. You’d hate for that first 90-degree day to be upon you only to find out you have no way of cooling yourself off. That would make for a miserable domestic situation and several sleepless nights.
  • Take stock of your windows and screens. Repair any tears now, check for mold, and look for leaks around wood trim and window frames.
  • After a winter of roaring fires and hot toddies, you should evaluate the status of your chimney. It’s a good time to have a chimney sweep clean and service your fireplace, removing ash and soot and ensuring it’s working properly. Fire is a force to be reckoned with, and spring is the perfect time to deal with it.
  • Clogged gutters aren’t just unsightly – they can lead to minor disasters including a leaky roof or water damage to both the inside and outside of your home. The maze of gutters and downspouts control the flow of rainwater, which essentially protects your roof, foundation, walls, and even your landscaping. Now’s the time to make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and rubbish.
  • Give your wood deck a must-needed power wash to remove caked on dirt and reveal its true beauty underneath. Also, give it a quick safety inspection. Inspect for chips, nicks, and splinters, as well as wobbly rails and loose boards. Your deck is your second home throughout the warmer months – you want to make sure it’s ready for some summer fun.
  • The bugs will soon get their invitation to your home and backyard, and they will be ready and willing to bite, annoy, and disgust you. The ants will move into the kitchen, mosquitoes settle into the brush, and ticks lie in waiting for unsuspecting pets and pants legs. It might be a wise idea to call in a pest control company to evacuate unwanted critters.

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.

What are Mold Levels?

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As many of you already know, mold growth can pollute the air and cause issues for people with respiratory problems. Mold can also do extensive damage to your home, gradually wearing away at the home’s structural integrity, attacking walls, floors, or ceilings.  The best way to prevent health hazards and damage to your home is to act quickly. While most of us would be able to spot mold growing on food that has been in the fridge too long or between shower tiles; most people are unable to identify the severity of the situation.  Mold levels help bring clarity to the significance of your contamination.

Most industry experts divide the different stages of mold growth or damage into five distinct levels. Level one is the lowest degree of contamination, and four is the highest. The fifth level refers to a specific location for mold growth that can be especially complicated. Branch Services wants to share with you the standards for mold levels in the house.

What are the Mold Levels?

Level 1:

Level 1 is reserved for mold growth that has been contained to 10 square feet or less. Typically it can be found on ceiling tiles or wall panels that are exposed to high humidity or fluctuations in the temperature. Fortunately, if caught quickly the mold can be removed with relative ease.

Level 2:

Contaminated areas of 10-30 square feet. If the mold has spread to cover a space over 10 square feet, it may hint at a more significant issue with plumbing or air conditioning systems–but not always.  Typically there will be a source for all the moisture that may be difficult to find.

Level 3:

Covering a space between 30 to 100 square ft, the 3 level is the stage where you should start to worry.  With such a large portion of the building being covered in mold, the house would now need to be tested. Contacting a professional cleaning service (like us here at Branch Services) should be your first step.

Level 4:

Any contamination that extends to over 100 sq. Ft. will require professional remediation. Also, at this level, any person with repository issues would need to evacuate, so cleaning professionals get to work using materials to remove the excessive contamination.

Level 5:

Level 5 is specifically for HVAC systems. All remediation procedures for air conditioning units and HVAC systems also require a professional cleaning service. As a result of the level of contamination, the entire system will necessitate a shutdown as the professionals clean the area thoroughly.

Regardless of the level, if you home has issues with mold you should contact a professional cleaning service as soon as possible. We can are here 24/7 at 1.631.467.6600. You can also complete our contact form here: https://branchservicesinc.com/contact-us.php

Home Remodeling: New Year, New Home!

Home Remodeling is multi-purpose!

2019 is here and while most people will spend January thinking about thinking about self-improvement, Branch Services wants to let you know that home improvement can also help improve your life. Whether adding “his and her sinks” to your bathroom, adding a much needed second bathroom, or even something as simple as giving your home a new coat of paint, Branch Services is here to help give you the home you have always wanted. While self-improvement should not be forgotten, home remodeling is a much easier task because Branch Services will happily do the work for you! Now is a great time to think about the renovations you’ve always wanted and start planning—with the help of Branch Services—the perfect new home for the new you.

Plan Your Home Remodeling

If you already have an idea in mind on how to improve your home, fill out our contact form: Contact Form or call 631.467.6600 so that we may give you some helpful suggestions that you might not yet have thought of. If you are considering installing a second bathroom it might save you significant money in the long run if you were to also replace the older piping in your home before there is an issue. We can also help by advising you about possible permits or licenses that may be needed for larger renovations.

What are The Advantages of Home Remodeling?

There is really an endless amount of advantages that can come with home remodeling based on what you would like to do. If you have a large family, the advantages of a second bathroom are obvious. I can’t stress how great it feels to be able to enjoy a bath without an angry mob forming outside the bathroom door.

Home remodeling can also improve the value of your home if you intend on eventually moving. Entire kitchen redesigns aren’t necessary to improve the value, smaller additions like new countertops can significantly improve the resale value of your home as well at a minimal cost.

Why Start Planning This Early?

Time is a funny thing. Right now spring may seem years away but time keeps on moving and we are already beginning to take on projects for spring when the weather improves. Time waits for no one, so don’t let this year pass you by without making your home and life a lot better. Call Branch Services today at 631.467.6600 to get started on your new project or reserve your spot this spring!

Asbestos Roof Shingles: Can we install AC in an asbestos roofed house?

Asbestos

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. These fibers make an effective insulator and create stronger plastic, paper cloth, and other materials. That was until the dangers of Asbestos became known and the Environmental Protection Agency stated that exposure to asbestos may cause a greater chance of developing harmful health effects such as lung disease.

Why were Asbestos Roof Shingles Originally So Popular? (Why was Asbestos Used in Roof Shingles?)

  • Durability
  • Light weight
  • Inexpensive alternative
  • Fireproof (characteristics?)

The presence of asbestos in your home is not necessarily hazardous. What will create a hazardous living condition 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 and 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 let your service provider know.  Installing an AC in a home with asbestos roof tiles will not cause any immediate concerns. The concerns will not arise unless the tiles are not in pristine condition (good 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 the condition of your asbestos roof tiles or 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 System? Warning Signs

 

We here at Branch Services know that it can be easy to forget about your home’s HVAC system. Many people don’t even consider looking at their air ducts until there is a problem. As is the case with most things in life, if you wait for it to break it will end up costing you much more in the long run. Preventative air duct maintenance can not only keep your system running efficiently, without interruption, but it can also make the air you breathe cleaner too! Air duct cleaning and maintenance can help remove bacteria, pet dander, and even pathogens like black mold that can cause life-threatening infections to people with weaker immune systems—according to the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. It is recommended that they are checked at least once a year. If a professional service hasn’t checked your air duct system recently, now is the time. Hopefully, your air isn’t already contaminated and there is no mold in your HVAC system but if it is we recommend calling as soon as possible!

Warning Signs Your HVAC System and Ducts Need a Cleaning

Inexplicable spikes in your energy bill

If you begin to find that your bills are rising without a clear explanation, then you may need maintenance. Clogs or leaks in the duct system can reduce the system’s efficiency dramatically, costing you money.

Respiratory problems

Allergies, sinus infections, asthma, or other respiratory problems may be the result of dirt and debris caught in your ductwork.

Signs of an infestation: rodent, insect, or bird

Detecting an infestation in your ductwork can be difficult. Without the use of cameras or technology that can span the entirety of your ductwork, you can’t be sure.  While not scientific, without the use of a professional service you need to rely on your senses. Unusual smells or hearing something within the ducts are your clues. If you are unsure if you have an infestation in your ductwork we recommend you call us immediately.

Visible mold in HVAC system

This is, clearly, the most obvious sign of mold growth within your home. While again, you would be unable to check the entirety of your system, you can check near the vents for a black growth. If you do see unwelcome mold growth please call us immediately. The CDC reports that recent studies suggest a potential link between early mold exposure and asthma in children.

If you haven’t had your ducts or HVAC system checked in over a year, or if you believe your home may be contaminated, call Branch Services at 631.467.6600. We are open 24 hours a day and will do our best to resolve your HVAC issue before the cold weather gets here!

Mold Remediation at Home

Mold remediation is the best way to remove mold that already exists.

Keeping the water and humidity out of your home is the best way to avoid mold growth.

As many of you already know, mold thrives in environments with water in the air. Mold is able to grow on any surface or substance as long as there is moisture. With the humidity continuing to exceed 60% outside on Long Island, there is a chance your home is providing fertile ground for mold growth! If you smell a musty odor in your home or if you already see mold it might be time to call in a professional at Branch Services, but if you are confident your home is mold-free we have some mold remediation recommendations to help you keep it that way.

Home Mold Remediation Techniques

Open Your Windows

Keeping your windows open when possible will greatly increase the air circulation within the room or house. As we mentioned, the humidity has been pretty crazy lately but when there isn’t a storm looming be sure to open your windows. We also recommend ensuring your clothes dryer’s exhaust is taking the moisture out of the house.

Ventilation Fans

The steam that comes from your stove, grill, oven, and even your shower, can all greatly increase the moisture within a room. Be sure to turn on your ventilation fans to ensure the water particles in the air aren’t sticking to your walls or ceiling!

Dehumidifier

We know this one is pretty self-explanatory but we wanted to mention it. Many dehumidifiers excel at trapping mold spores within their filters; there are some that can even kill the mold after it has been filtered. All humidifiers were not created equal, so we recommend doing your research when picking a dehumidifier.

Cleaning

We know that few people want to spend their precious free time cleaning, but it is a great countermeasure against the spread of mold. The walls in your bathroom and kitchen are especially vulnerable to mold formation; as such we do recommend cleaning them often. Vacuuming can also help to reduce the small airborne particles that you would otherwise be breathing.

Making your home inhospitable to mold growth is your best course of action. If you believe you smell, see, or even sense the presence of mold in your home, give us a call! We are home mold remediation specialists ready to make your home mold-free. Call our office at 631.467.6600 or visit our website branchservicesinc.com for the assistance and answers you need!

Don’t Panic about Flood Damage Cleanup! What To Do When Water Damage Hits.

Flood Damage Cleanup is not fun!

Flood damage cleanup can be difficult. We recommend calling a professional!

With hurricanes like Katrina and Florence, much of the damage you hear about isn’t from the wind; it’s the water damage. While hurricanes aren’t always the cause, water damage emergencies happen all the time—be it from more common rain events, burst pipes, or even snowstorms.

Ensuring that you have current flood insurance if you are in a flood-prone region is a crucial pre-emptive step you can take to help pay for damages should they occur. Another step you can take in advance is to make sure that you have a properly working sump pump. These pumps will help remove water from your basement before it has the chance to rise and enter your home, keeping the flood damage cleanup requirements to a minimum.

Even if you’ve done everything possible in advance, floods still happen. When a flood hits, there are some important things to keep in mind, which will help you through anything from a flooded basement to a whole house full of water.

The most important thing to remember in a flooding event is that a fast response is vital.

The more quickly you can respond to a flood in your home or business, the more likely you are to mitigate some of the damage and lower the overall costs. Certain items—such as carpets, flooring, and upholstered furniture—must be replaced for a proper water damage cleanup. A professional water damage restoration and mold remediation company, such as Branch Services, will have experience dealing with insurance claims and will be able to deal with your insurance company for you to get reimbursement for items that cannot be cleaned.

While dealing with small amounts of water damage, such as the kind that comes from a leaky pipe or a temporary water incident (think broken fish tanks!), may seem like a DIY job. A property owner’s best course of action would be to contact a professional to be sure. What people may not realize when dealing with water damage is that just cleaning up the puddle you can see is likely not enough. Flood waters have a nasty habit of finding their way into nooks and crannies, behind molding, under wall coverings, behind fixed cabinetry, and more. All of these places are perfect environments for mold growth. Professionals will not only bring in industrial dehumidifiers but also air movers and ozone generators to prevent mold from taking hold of an area.

Remember, mold is nothing to mess around with, and you’re better safe than sorry. If a water damage event occurs, call a pro quickly; 9 out of 10 times you’ll be glad you did! Flood damage cleanup can be a difficult process for an individual. Call Branch Services at (631)467-6600 for a professional flood damage cleanup!

If Lightning Strikes, Fight Back with Branch Services

 

Watch out!

Lightning, while beautiful, can do significant damage to your home.

Lightning can be beautiful to watch, from a distance. There is a long list of problems that can come with lightning, however. First, the loud boom after lightning can scare your pets, making them difficult to find. Be sure to keep an eye on your pets to make sure they aren’t frightened or running. There is also the danger of your home being struck by a lightning bolt. Atmospheric electricity can seriously damage your home; it could also cause a fire as a result of the surge of electricity. To help you prevent a lightning fire on Long Island, Branch Services wants to give you some quick advice on the dangers of lightning strikes and how to prevent lightning strikes in the future.

What Happens When a Lightning Bolt Strikes a House?

Lightning is an electrical discharge caused by imbalances between storm clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves. During a storm colliding particles increase the imbalance between storm clouds and the ground, causing lightning to strike the ground in an attempt to negate the imbalance.  Searching for the shortest distance to the ground, large trees and houses are especially vulnerable to lightning strikes. When lightning strikes a house it can go through electrical lines, water pipes, phone lines, or anything that can conduct massive amounts of electricity. There are three main dangers you should be prepared for if lightning strikes your home.

Three Main Dangers:

  • -A house fire
  • -Shockwave damage
  • -Power surge damage

How Can You Prevent a House Fire?

One of the most complete ways to prevent a lightning fire is to invest in a protection system to be installed by a professional. Electrical rods can direct the surge of power to the ground and away from your property. You should also be sure to unplug all electrical devices to avoid having surges damage your gadgets and gizmos.

Lightning striking your home can be dangerous. There are precautions that can be taken to minimize, or even remove, the chance of significant storm damage. Remember to turn off your water if the storm is to be significant and unplug your TVs and computers! Branch Services is here to help if you have suffered lightning damage or would like an assessment to see how prepared you are for a storm. Give us a call today at 631.467.6600

Keep Your Backyard Safe!

Now that summer is finally here Branch Services knows that you are eager to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and spend some time in your own backyard. Sadly, accidents can occur outside and spoil your fun. Here is a list of some common backyard dangers to keep an eye out for:

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools are a big part of enjoying the hot weather. Pool safety is vitally important to ensure your enjoyment does not get hampered. Over-treating your pool can lead to chemical poisoning and anywhere water is present you have to mind any nearby electrical appliances. You should also ensure that if you have kids they know the dangers that can be present in a pool and wait for adult supervision before taking a plunge.

Fires

Grills and fire pits can frequently be found in backyards. Each device, if unattended, could cause serious fire damage to your home.

Fire Pit Safety Tips

Flammable material and fluids must be kept away from fire pits.

Don’t overload your fire pit.

Place your fire pit on a level surface.

Be sure to not place your fire pit under tree branches, or telephone or electrical wires.

Keep a garden hose, bucket of water, or fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.

Grill Safety Tips

Be sure to only use your propane or charcoal barbeque grill outside.

Keep your pets and children a few feet away from the grilling area.

Clean the grease and fat buildup from your grill. Both grease and fat burn very quickly and could cause burns or fires.

Ticks

Long Island is seeing an increase in the number of ticks populating the island. The increase in tick population also means an increase in Lyme disease diagnoses. If you’re entering tall grass or deep forests be sure to check your skin regularly for ticks.

Pesticides

Strong pesticides can help protect you from ticks, but they also present their own dangers. Powerful chemicals can contaminate the area for days and could even rub off on children or pets. Children tend to have weaker immune systems, meaning they could be more susceptible to illness.

Large Patio Umbrellas

Patio umbrellas can be blown off balance by wind and could wreak havoc; breaking windows, breaking structures, or even flying into a neighbor’s yard. To avoid danger going forward be sure to reinforce the umbrella with a weight, brace, or even a sandbag.

Branch Services wants to ensure you have a safe and happy summer. Watch out for the dangers that can be present in your own backyard! If fire, storm, water, or mold damage your home we want you to know that Branch Services is only a phone call away. Give us a call at (631)467-6600 to see what we can do for you!

Removing Mold From Houseplants

If you have been reading our blog than you most definitely are aware of the dangers of mold and the process involved in riding your home of the unwanted growth. For more details about how mold is formed, or how Branch Services can help you can read our March post here: Mold Remediation. Even after Branch Services has thoroughly and expertly removed the mold in your home, there is a chance of mold returning attached to an inconspicuous source.

While houseplants are renowned for their decorative appeal, they can also help fight indoor pollutants like formaldehyde or benzene. Sadly, if improperly maintained a houseplant can actually become a source of unwanted pollutants and mold. There are steps you can take to ensure your plants do more than just help your home’s aesthetic. These steps will help to keep both you and your houseplants healthy!

Don’t Over Water

The internet is a great resource for learning how frequently a houseplant should be watered. If you are unsure of your houseplant’s ideal schedule you can find articles like this, from Better Homes & Garden.  Mold needs 3 things to grow; food, moisture, and oxygen. A houseplant can house all three of these elements in abundance. Moisture is the easiest of the three to manage.  Better Homes & Garden suggests adding water until it begins to escape through the containers drainage hole. After the plant has drained the excess water in the tray needs to be dumped. It can take only a day or two before the excess water starts to rot your roots! We also suggest adding gravel to the bottom of the soil to help the plant drain more efficiently.

Keep the Air Moving

Plants need to be kept in a well ventilated area. Plants emit water vapor which increases relative humidity levels. If the humidity levels around your plant are constantly high, mold can begin to form. Opening a window or turning on a fan can help to circulate the air around your plant. If you are not near a window or fan, you could use a dehumidifier daily to remove the excess moisture.

A Pinch of Cinnamon

Cinnamon can be used as a natural fungicide.  Including a little bit of cinnamon to the soil when first planting seedlings can help fight Damping off. Studies also suggest that it works with older plants to stave off slime mold!

Removing the Mold

There is a chance the plants you have in your house are already exhibiting mold growth. If you see mold developing on plant leaves you should dampen a towel with warm water, ring out the towel of excess water, and gently wipe the mold from the leaves. You should replace the towels frequently for best results. If you see mold growth in the soil you can use a spoon or trowel to remove the contaminated soil. The soil should be placed in a sealable bag and disposed of. After removing all the visible mold you can fill the pot with fresh soil.

The only way to ensure your home is free from mold is to bring in an expert here at Branch Services, so that we make 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!