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Home Mold Remediation

Containing water and lowering the humidity in of your home is the best way to avoid mold growth.

If you read this blog, you already know that mold thrives in environments where there is 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!

Flood Damage Cleanup: What to Do When Water Damage Hits

Flood damage cleanup can be difficult. We recommend calling a professional! While our current hurricane season has been relatively quiet, we’ve still seen high tides and strong winds that can drive water into homes. With hurricanes and Nor’easters, much of the damage you hear about isn’t from the wind; it’s the water damage. While storms 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. Nine out of ten 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!

Air Conditioner Leaks and How to Stop Them

Whether your air conditioner is housed in the attic or not, you may have experienced an air conditioner leak. If you have a leak this can cause water to enter ceilings, walls, and flooring. This is not only a mess, but it can also cause water damage and mold damage to your home that requires water damage restoration and mold remediation.

So, why does this happen and how can you avoid the problem and prevent water damage to your home?

HVAC systems contain evaporator coils that cool the warm air in your home as it is blown over them. As the air moves condensation forms on the coil. In the best-case scenario, this condensation then drips into the drain pan and finally runs through the condensation drain line outside of your house.

Sometimes, the AC leak is due to the condensation drain line becoming clogged. Dirt, debris, mold, or even spider webs can clog up the line causing water to back up into the house. If that’s the case, having an HVAC professional come to clear the line is your best bet.

Another reason you may experience a leak is because of an old drip pan. If your AC system is older than ten years it’s possible that your drain pan has become damaged or rusted. In that case the water is no longer being directed to the drain line and simply spills all over the house. That means that the pan needs to be replaced. Broken condensation pumps can cause a leak if your air conditioning unit is in the basement. Ideally, the condensation pump pushes the water up and outside of your basement; if it is broken the water builds up and makes a mess. Your HVAC specialist will need to replace the pump if this is the case.

Finally, if your air filter is dirty or you have a refrigerant leak, you may develop low pressure in your system causing the coils to freeze over. When the unit turns off the coils will defrost and you’ll have an AC leak that leaks water all over. To ensure this doesn’t happen make sure you change your filters regularly and you’re not leaking refrigerant. How will you know if you’re leaking refrigerant? Your air conditioner won’t cool as well and you may hear noises like hissing or bubbling. If these things are happening you will either have to repair the leak or replace the whole AC unit. Your HVAC professional will know for sure which is the better option for you.

Some AC units have a float switch that can turn off the system if the water is spilling out. If yours doesn’t have one you can ask to have one installed to avoid water damage from occurring in the first place.

If you’ve had a water leak that caused damage in your house, be sure to call Branch Services, today!

What Do You Do if Lightning Strikes? Call Branch Services!

Summer lightning storms are beautiful, but lightning can also do significant damage to your home.

A lightning storm can cause severe damage to your home if it is struck by a lightning bolt. This bolt can send an electric current through your home, causing a fire as a result of the surge of electricity.

To help you prevent a lightning fire 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 electrical 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 else 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 (or lightning 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.

Remember to turn off your water if the storm is to be significant and unplug your TVs and computers as well! 

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.

Backyard Safety Tips

Summer is finally here and we know that you’re eager to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and spend some time in your backyard. Sadly, sometimes 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

An essential part of enjoying the hot weather, swimming pools can also be a source of danger. Pool safety is vitally important to ensure your enjoyment does not get ruined. 

Over-treating your pool with too much chlorine 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. The buddy system should always be employed, particularly for kids.

Fires

Grills and fire pits can frequently be found in backyards and are often part of summer fun. Each device—if left unattended—can cause serious fire damage to your home, so it is important to make sure you always have an eye on them and keep children a safe distance away. 

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

  • Only use your propane or charcoal barbecue grill outside
  • Keep your pets and children a few feet away from the grilling area
  • Clean the grease and fat buildup from your grill because 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 the tick population also means an increase in Lyme and other 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 even rub off on children or pets. Children tend to have weaker immune systems, meaning they could be more susceptible to illness. Certain pesticides are meant for application to clothing rather than skin, so be sure to read labels carefully. 

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, 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!

Keeping Houseplants Free of Mold

If you’re a regular reader of our blog then you surely know the dangers of mold and how difficult the process to remove it from your home can be. So it is important to consider all potential sources of mold, even those that may be more inconspicuous than others. 

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. However, there are steps you can take to ensure your plants do more than just improve your home’s aesthetic. These steps will help to keep both you and your houseplants healthy!

Dont Overwater

The internet is a great resource for learning how frequently a houseplant should be watered. There are also wonderful apps that can keep track of your plant’s watering schedule for you.

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 container’s drainage hole. After the plant has drained the excess water the tray needs to be dumped. It can take only a day or two before the excess water starts to rot your roots!

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 in 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 that 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 the 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!

Beware of Spring Flooding!

The weather is warming up, but before you get ready to head outside and enjoy it, it is important to make sure your home or office is safe from torrential rains and flooding. Water damage can result in real harm to your property’s value and structural integrity. Floods are becoming more and more frequent across Long Island, so one must prepare for the dangers associated with a flood. The following tips will tell you how to best restore both your property and lifestyle after a flood.

Safety First

Wires, power lines, and electronic devices may still be live during a flood. The water will act as a conductor increasing the chances of electrocution or fire. Contact your local power company if you suspect you might be in danger. Floodwaters can wreak havoc on your gas lines as well. If you smell gas it is important you leave immediately and call your gas company. Be sure to remove yourself from a dangerous environment as soon as possible.

What to Do Next

After flooding occurs call us here at Branch Services as soon as possible because mold can grow within only 12 hours. We offer 24-hour emergency service because we know the importance of moving quickly to mitigate the damage. Our flood removal process will ensure the water is disposed of swiftly, enabling us to start water damage restoration.

After calling us, your second call should be to your insurance company to ensure you are covered. The experts here at Branch Services have years of experience working with insurers; our knowledge of insurance policies will ensure you get everything you’re entitled to.


Insurance Claims

There are things you can do to better prepare yourself for submitting a claim for restoration services. Creating a home inventory of your valuables is a great way to expedite the claim. Keep receipts of your newly purchased valuables to remove the guesswork in estimating the cost of replacement.

Create a list of every product that would need to be replaced. Organize them by room and type of item: clothing, electronics, jewelry, etc. Take photos of the rooms that contain items of great value. They can be used as a reference after experiencing a devastating flood. Be sure to update your photos and inventory yearly.


Guard Yourself Against Infections

Contaminated water can bring Salmonella, E. coli, and a litany of other bacteria that will cause real health problems. You should dispose of any food that came in contact with the water because eating or drinking a contaminated product significantly increases your chance of infection. The threat of infection isn’t just an issue with food and drink; any materials exposed to the water—medication, children’s toys, or even cosmetics—could become contaminated and have significant effects on your health.

If you have lost electricity, or the flood reaches your kitchen, you should dispose of any perishable items you may have in your fridge; chicken can start to spoil after only 2 hours of being removed from refrigeration.

Keep your family away from the floodwater. If anyone has come in contact with the floodwater it is important they clean themselves thoroughly. Kids may be tempted to splash and play in the water, be sure they are aware of the severity of the situation.


Avoiding Breathing Hazards

Even after the water is gone mold growth can begin in under 24 hours. It is unsafe to be around water damage. Porous materials like drywall and carpet need to be handled by experts with advanced knowledge of the drying process. You may be tempted to bring out the hair dryer or dehumidifier in the hopes of solving the problem yourself, but it is important to contact a professional. Even minor water damage can have significant effects on your health. Water removal is a specialty of ours and we know how to best control moisture ensuring the best results.

Our industrial-grade dehumidifiers and air scrubbers will stop every type of mold and mold spores from infecting your property. Branch Services wants to get you back in the swing of things as quickly as possible.

After thoroughly drying your home Branch Services applies an E.P.A.-approved antimicrobial agent to help prevent mold growth, making the air you breathe safe once again.

Being a victim of a flood can make it tough to compose yourself. There is a lot to do. Branch Services is going to help return your life to normal as quickly as possible.

Breathing Easier: Mold Remediation

We’ve all seen mold. Mold is a woolly growth produced by a fungus, especially on moist or decaying surfaces. It can usually be found in dark or steamy areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and spaces with poor ventilation. Damp basements, leaks in pipes or roofs, and any standing water can create a haven for mold. When mold spores are present in large quantities they can lead to property damage and a variety of health issues, including allergic reactions and respiratory problems for people and pets. Mold can form quickly and, once established, is almost impossible for homeowners to fully remove on their own.

If you have mold, then you need Branch Services.

Eliminating Mold At The Source

Branch Services knows that eliminating the moisture source is the first step in fungal remediation. After the moisture is controlled, then comes the removal of affected contents and the decontamination of replaceable materials. We’ll remove any moldy carpets and seal off the damaged area. We’ll then open up directly affected walls and bag any additional moldy materials. Debris is vacuumed and affected surfaces are scrubbed with a mold cleaner.

Drying of concealed wall cavities and enclosed spaces may also be required for full remediation. Branch Services begins the rigorous process of eliminating present and potential mold by using H.E.P.A. Vacs. High-Efficiency Particulate Air vacuums differ from conventional vacuums in that they are capable of trapping extremely small, micron-sized airborne particles. We also perform biocide cleaning of interior surfaces. Biocide kills disease-causing mold, fungus, bacteria, and viruses.

Next, we apply a mold/mildew-resistant encapsulant.

Unlike regular paint that will just cover up unseen mold—making it even more difficult to see and treat—encapsulant paint product contains antimicrobial ingredients that help fight mold. It also seals in any mold remaining on a material, like wood, so that it cannot continue to grow and spread.

Occasionally, it is extremely difficult or impossible to remove a material that is contaminated by mold. For instance, drywall and insulation can usually be easily removed and replaced, but the wooden studs inside a wall cannot. In such cases, as much mold as possible is removed from the surface of the wood. Then the wood is cleaned and treated with an encapsulant. Lastly, we perform air purification through ozone treatments, which kills and denatures mold on surfaces.

Mold can ruin your home and your health. Removing only some of the mold in your home is pointless. It will simply grow and spread, and you’ll eventually have a full-blown mold issue once again. Our pros will test your home for mold and tell you what kind of mold is growing there, the severity of your mold problem, and the location of mold you may not have spotted.

Devising an immediate and thorough remediation plan is essential for getting rid of the mold. Here at Branch Services, we break the mold! 

Our knowledgeable technicians will promptly find and stop mold, even when it hides in the most hard-to-reach places. Our competitors can’t match our level of expertise or customer service. When it comes to mold remediation, the highly skilled professionals at Branch Services are a breath of fresh air.

How Is Mold Graded?

Mold spores are everywhere. You can’t get away from them; and when they take hold and begin to grow, they can pollute the air and cause issues for both people and pets. In addition to the damage, mold can do to your body, mold can also damage your home, gradually wearing away at the home’s structural integrity, and attacking walls, floors, or ceilings. 

If you see mold it is important to act quickly, but not knowing how bad a situation is can make it difficult to do so. Knowing the mold levels in your home helps bring clarity to the situation and lets you know how best to tackle it. 

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.

Level 1:

This level 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 temperature. Fortunately, if caught quickly, the mold can be removed with relative ease. This is the type of mold you may find on bathroom tiles or walls. 

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 feet, the 3rd 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 square feet will require professional remediation. Also, at this level, any person with repository issues would need to evacuate, so cleaning professionals can 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 your home has issues with mold you should contact a professional cleaning service as soon as possible. Branch Services is here 24/7 at 1.631.467.6600. You can also email us at info@branchservicesinc.com.

Space Heater Safety Tips

We’ve had good luck with temperatures in the late fall, but now that winter is officially here temperatures are plummeting. That, combined with the cost of home heating fuel, means more people will be trying to save money by using space heaters. While this can work to save money, space heaters can still pose a threat of fire.

Here are some safety tips to ensure the safety of your family and pets during the colder weather and help to prevent a space heater fire. 

Safety Certification: When purchasing a space heater, look for a safety certification from a well-known source, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Make Sure It Has Auto Shut Off: Auto shut-off features are beneficial to prevent overheating and hazards if the space heater tips over. Many fires occur when a space heater is knocked over.

Make Room: Make sure there is at least 3 feet of space around the space heater and anything that could set fire. Take care to remove flammable materials such as curtains, bedding, and clothing. Aside from cooking fires, space heater fires that start because they are placed too close to a combustible surface are the second most common type of house fire.

Keep Them Out of the Bathroom and Kitchen: Space heaters do not typically come with GFCI plugs. To prevent electrocution keep the heating unit away from water. Bathrooms and kitchens are a bad idea for electric space heaters.

No Extension Cords: Plug only the space heater into the wall outlet so as not to overload the circuit. Never use an extension cord with space heaters because the amount of power drawn from these units is too much for a low-amp extension cord to handle. It can cause the cord to overheat and spark a fire.

Keep It on the Floor: Keep the space heater on the floor, preferably wood or tile. Low-pile carpet is acceptable but stay away from high-pile and shag carpeting because it can easily catch fire. Heaters kept on shelves or tables can knock over and spark a fire.

Keep Away From Children and Pets: Kids and pets can be burned, electrocuted, or can start a fire by knocking it over or putting things like blankets and toys too close to the heater.

Turn Them off When Not in the Room: Make sure to turn off the heating unit when leaving the room or going to bed.

Check the Wires: Check for worn or frayed wires before using the space heater. Don’t use it if wires are worn or broken.

Even when we take precautions, accidents can happen. If you experience a fire in your home you can always rely on Branch Services to be there to clean it up.