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Repairing Fire Damage: A Look into the Process

repairing fire damage

When you have a fire in your home the damage comes on many fronts. The fire itself, smoke, and water all have a hand in the havoc. Repairing fire damage takes work and knowing what the restoration process will entail can help you deal with the fallout, and help you get back on your feet more easily.

Step One of Repairing Fire Damage:

After the fire has been put out and it’s safe to return to the structure you’ll want a professional restoration service such as Branch Services to come in and assess the extent of the damage. As mentioned before, the damage comes from many causes, fire and smoke damage being the first things they look at. Making sure that the area is safe to enter is key to moving forward with the restoration. Depending on how much structural damage has taken place, the team you call may need to repair that first before any clean up can happen. If any areas are structurally unsafe, they may be blocked off from the rest of the home so that restoration can continue. Those areas that are blocked off will be tackled after the rest of the process is underway.

Water Damage Left from a Fire:

Water damage is another issue that is important to address. In a large fire, there is often water left behind after it’s been put out; a professional will have specialized equipment to remove the water and dry all affected areas.

If water damage is not handled properly you can end up with a mold problem, on top of the other issues you’re dealing with. Drying the water is not as simple as just opening a window, specialized equipment is necessary to get the job done correctly and keep mold from infesting the unaffected areas of the home.

Once the water is cleaned up the smoke and soot will need to be dealt with. Soot gets into every nook and cranny in your home after a house fire, so smoke damage restoration is an extensive process. The walls and ceilings need to be cleaned, soft items such as clothing and some toys will need to be removed from the home and professionally cleaned, as will furniture, rugs, and other items in the home.

Final Step of Repairing Fire Damage:

The final stage of repairing fire damage is post-soot removal sanitization and cleanup. This will include deciding what can and cannot be kept (certain items may be beyond saving, even if they were not in the area of the fire) and preparing the property for any necessary restoration work, such as replacing drywall, carpets, floorboards, and painting.

No one wants to experience a fire in their home, but with the help of an expert, the process can be a whole lot easier. So if you have had a fire be sure to call Branch Services to assess, clean, and repair your fire damage and get you back to where you want to be.

How To Prevent Mold Growth In Your Home. 

Mold Growth

Summer is here and that means lots of heat and lots and lots of moisture. From humidity to rain, water is everywhere in summer, and where there is water, there’s the potential for mold growth. Moisture problems in the home can range from just creating a musty smell or uncomfortably high humidity levels to mold damage and even health risks from being exposed to mold which, according to the Center for Disease Control, can be as simple as mold allergies or more serious health effects such as asthma or lung infections.

According to the EPA (the environmental protection agency) “there is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.” Every house has some mold spores. Mold is endemic in the environment, but it doesn’t get out of control unless it has the high moisture level it requires to thrive.

Water damage from a leaky pipe or bathrooms without an exhaust fan are prime locations for mold growth in any season, but in summer, you can get mold growth from environmental humidity as well. Your indoor humidity goal should be from 30-60% to help avoid mold issues.

Best Ways to Prevent Mold Growth:

According to the EPA, the best ways to decrease indoor mold is to ensure that you:

  1. Vent your bathroom, clothes dryer and other moisture-generating sources to the outside.
  2. Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers
  3. Increase ventilation
  4. Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning

The EPA’s web site has lots of helpful tips on ways to avoid mold all over your home, however, once mold has taken hold, it is important to deal with it as quickly as possible.

What To Do If You See Mold:

If you see mold on hard surfaces, you should clean up the mold with water and detergent and make sure that you dry it completely. Removing mold on items such as tile is not difficult. That said, mold can grow on just about any surface if moisture is present, so be vigilant about keeping moisture in your home under control to prevent mold growth. If you find mold on absorbent surfaces, such as ceiling tile or drywall, it may need to be replaced.

If you suspect mold in your home that goes beyond the standard bathroom mildew, you may want to call in an expert. Mold problems that go unaddressed tend to get worse, not better, and mold exposure isn’t a great way to keep your family safe. An expert such as Branch Services can come in and go about sampling for molds, identifying any mold problems, and can then come up with a plan to address and remediate existing issues.

Remember, just because you see a tutorial on YouTube, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to tackle mold, particularly large areas of mold, on your own. You can think you’re helping when instead you’re just spreading the spores into other, previously unaffected areas of your house. So, if you see mold, be safe, and be smart. Call the experts and rest easy knowing that your mold growth problems are being handled the right way, the first time.

Summer Fire Safety Tips

summer fire

People tend to associate forest fires with California, where these fires occur nearly every summer. However, a summer fire danger exists all throughout the country. Extreme heat and hot summer winds combine with lightning strikes, or simply even human carelessness can create a destructive summer fire. These disasters consume everything from National Forest land to private homes and businesses. 

According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), every year since 2000, over 72,000 wildfires burned an average of 7 million acres of land. Fire spreads incredibly quickly, particularly driven by wind, and even smaller fires can grow into the largest wildfire within minutes. 

While summer is a time for fun, remember that according to a United States Fire Administration report, summer is also one of the most dangerous seasons for fire-related injuries and deaths. Don’t forget to follow these tips for summer fire safety; taking precautions will protect not only your family but the lives and property of those around you.

 

For your home, be careful with fire pits. A small spark leaping out of your fire pit can cause big problems in the summer heat. Wet the area around your fire pit down before starting your fire, and have a hose or fire extinguisher at the ready to handle any stray bits of wood which may fall out of the pit. 

If you live in a wooded area, be sure to clear the area around your house of flammable materials such as leaves and pine needles which spread the fire quickly. 

 

Summer Fire Safety Tips for Home:

Having a barbeque? Make sure your grill is clean. Grease fires can happen when your grill isn’t regularly cleaned, and they can get out of control quickly. For a grease fire, never use water, use your fire extinguisher instead. 

Finally, make sure your house is clearly and visibly numbered. Remember, if the fire department can’t find your house, they can’t help you. 

 

Fireworks are another cause of fires. Though they are illegal in NY, many people still use them. To keep them from causing a summer fire, NEVER light them indoors, keep a hose or fire extinguisher nearby, pre-wet the area in which you will be lighting them, and NEVER let children handle them. 

 

Summer Fire Safety Tips When You are Away from Home: 

When away from home, mind your surroundings. If you’re in a hotel, identify the nearest emergency exits. Ensure your family has a plan in case a fire breaks out and you become separated. Only stay in hotels with fire safety equipment such as sprinkler systems installed. 

 

While driving, NEVER toss lit cigarettes out of your car. It only takes one cigarette to start the largest wildfire. Forest fires can start easily in dry conditions so do your part and keep cigarettes in the ashtray. 

 

If we all do our part in taking proper precautions, we can enjoy outdoor activities while keeping the summer fire risk to a minimum. Use common sense, take some precautions, and you’ll have a fun time all summer long!

How to Remove Mold from Your Home.

remove mold

Mold is everywhere. Airborne mold spores exist in almost every environment, so when conditions favor its growth mold can take hold, and quickly. This can happen in humid weather or after heavy rain, and often is the result of water damage. In the following read, we will take you through a how-to remove mold DIY.

Moldy areas are typically found on porous surfaces such as grout or the drywall in your home. Mildew is one of the most common types of mold, most often found in your shower. Mildew can sometimes be seen on old woodwork as well and, causes surface stains but not rot. Ventilation is the key to prevention in these situations. Make sure you open that shower curtain or door after use and use your exhaust fan to help prevent mold growth in the bathroom. There are hundreds of cleaning products available to handle minor cases of bathroom mold, but when it comes to mold stains on your walls, the problem can be a little harder to handle.

Mold Removal Preparation:

Before attempting to remove mold be sure that neither you nor anyone else who will be in the area has health issues, as mold can exacerbate specific health problems. If you are at all concerned about the removal process, or what type of mold you have, you should call an expert in mold remediation such as Branch Services to handle the problem.

Surface mold, such as mildew, or the mold you get on your deck or siding can also be cleaned with a solution of bleach and water. Using a 1-to-8 ratio—1 part bleach to 8 parts hot water—and a scrub brush. This will take care of the mold stain problem in minutes.

You’ll want to wear gloves when you are looking to remove mold and avoid breathing in the bleach solution as even a mild bleach mix can irritate your lungs and skin. After treating these areas, wipe them down but don’t rinse! The remaining bleach will kill the mold that is left. You should protect yourself even when dealing with these simple mold problems by wearing long sleeves, long pants, rubber gloves, and goggles.

When looking to remove mold for larger areas, such as water damaged carpet, drywall, or other mold affected areas, you will need to use even more caution and put in a lot more work. Experts recommend a respirator be worn, specifically one rated for mold spore protection, in addition to covering the rest of your body with clothing you can either immediately wash in hot water and bleach or throw away.

Step 1:

First, make sure the source of water has been removed; if the mold is caused by a leak fix it before dealing with the mess if it’s a ventilation issue address that before you dive into remediation.

When you work, you’ll want to set up a fan in a window as an exhaust fan to ventilate the room while you work. Use a cheap fan, as it will have to be discarded after use due to infestation with spores.

Once you’re dressed appropriately, and you’ve set up your exhaust system, you’ll want to rip up and discard any moldy carpet or drywall. Make sure it’s wrapped and taped inside the plastic and be sure to double bag any debris.

Keep the area you’re working with damp with a gentle spray of water to help keep spores from going airborne, and turn off the AC or heating system, so they don’t take up residence in your ducts.

Step 2:

Once you’ve removed the carpet or drywall, you’ll go about sealing off the rest of the room. Cover the doorway and floor registers with overlapping plastic. Tape it down to ensure that the plastic stays in place; it’s your first line of defense against spreading the mold.

Moldy walls will likely need to be opened, and insulation will have to be replaced. If the problem has been going on for a long time, you may even find that beams inside the wall have begun to rot. If so, they will also need to be removed. Additionally, there are wood preservatives available which can help preserve the existing wood. Once they have been applied, you’ll want to double up damaged studs with new, pressure-treated wood.

Step 3:

Finally, after all of that is done, you can vacuum out the remaining mess with a shop vac. Be sure to keep the shop vac outside and only let the hose inside. If not, you’ll end up spreading more spores all over the area.

Once that is all done you can begin the process of rebuilding from the damage.

This will involve scrubbing exposed surfaces with a mold cleaner made of bleach mix, sealing areas you have cleaned once they dry out, and beginning a new installation of drywall.

For some, the DIY method to remove mold may simply be too labor-intensive or intimidating. Whatever aspect gives you pause, it is often best to leave big jobs like this to the professionals. A company with experience in mold remediation and reconstruction can be a one-call solution to handle the issue without putting your health, or the health of your family, at risk.

No matter which option you choose, the longer mold sits, the worse the damage can be, so deal with the issue sooner rather than later.

How to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home

prevent water damage

No one wants to deal with water damage and the clean up that may come with it, here we will give your tips on how to prevent water damage in your home:

Water damage can compromise your house in any number of ways; from burst pipes or leaky hot water heaters to cracked hoses on washing machines and failing sump pipes. When it happens it’s almost always a BIG problem. The good news is that a lot of flooding issues can be prevented, so let’s go over a few ways you can protect your home and prevent water damage in the first place.

Clean Your Gutters

The first step to keeping water from seeping into your home from the outside is to clean your gutters. Your gutters form the first line of defense to keep water out of your home, but if they’re clogged up with leaves and branches they cannot do their job properly. While cleaning your gutters you should also inspect your roof for damaged shingles, soft spots, or cracks in sealants around skylights. All of these are ways in which water can enter your home and cause damage on the inside.

Damage to your home isn’t always just the big puddles you see; sometimes it’s other issues that build over time. This could be damage to your foundation and siding caused by water being improperly directed away from the house. As a way to avoid that damage, in addition to cleaning the gutters, you want to make sure that downspouts direct water at least 5 feet away from the home and that the ground against your foundation is graded in such a way that water flows away from your house.

Another preventative task you can do to prevent water damage is to check pumps and hoses, starting with your sump pump. Your sump pump only really works during a storm, making it likely to be forgotten completely—that is until you need it. Your home depends on it working, so doing a test before the storm season is your best bet. You should check on your sump pump at least once a year to make sure your home is fully prepared. While you’re checking on that sump pump make sure you know where the water main shut off valve is located. In case of a leaky pipe emergency you’ll want to get to it, and fast, to prevent water damage that can get extensive.

Check Your Pipes

After checking the pump you’ll want to check the hoses in your house. Checking these for small leaks or loose connections can alert you to bigger problems that may be coming down the road. Insurance claims for flooding won’t pay out if the problem was something you could have seen coming such as a loose hose connection on a sink or toilet.

Make sure you look under every sink, around the toilets, and around your washer and hot water heater to be sure everything is dry and functioning properly. These areas are all common places for water damage issues to begin and places that are easy to address once you find them.

Your water bill can alert you to water leaks you may not realize are happening, such as leaking sprinkler systems that can flood your foundation. If your bill is unexpectedly high that may be a sign of water losses you should be hunting down before they cause extreme damage to your home.

Signs of leaky pipes range from the obvious, such as dripping water, to the not so obvious, like dark spots and stains. Leaking water from pipes can cause more than the obvious water damage; the water can also attract insects such as ants and termites that can cause a whole other kind of headache. If you do find a leak, make sure to address the problem quickly. You may not want to pay the initial cost of a plumber to handle the issue, but the fallout from extensive water damage can cause you to require a lot more than a plumber to fix the job!

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 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 was Asbestos Used in Roof Shingles?

  • Durability
  • Lightweight
  • 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!