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Spring Cleaning

hand in orange glove cleaning window with green rag

Winter has finally left and it is starting to get warm. Now is the time for spring cleaning. Unfortunately once we start getting into all the cracks and crevasses in our home we can spot damage the winter months brought about that we didn’t notice.

Leaks and damage

The elements mixed with an aging house can wear down even the sturdiest of homes, small cracks can turn into leaks which can turn into mold. Water damage is one of the most common types of damage to a home.

Insurance claims

Most insurance policies don’t cover flood damage, but many policies allow claims for water damage caused by rain, snow, or ice or accidental leaking or discharge from plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or a refrigeration system. If you notice water damage caused by any of these things, check with your insurer, you may be covered! Make sure you call your agent as soon as you discover the damage as many policies have time limits on how late you can file a claim. To make a claim, you need to contact your insurance provider and speak with an adjuster. Be prepared to provide:

Photos of the damage. If you are claiming damage to contents and have that coverage, provide photo evidence of that, too. The description should include the make/model, size, material, and replacement cost.

 

  • A written estimate, from a contractor, for the repairs needed. Estimates should include a description of the work and a breakdown of the costs by materials and labor. The replacement materials should be those of the same kind and quality of those being repaired.

 

  • Be sure to check your homeowner’s insurance to see if it will cover mold. If you find evidence of mold, your insurer will want to be contacted immediately and most likely will assign an adjuster to inspect the site. Be careful, a mold claim might affect your ability to get insurance later.

 

Once you notice a leak the first thing you need to do is to fix it! Seal up the crack or call the plumber to fix the pipe or a handy man to fix that leaky appliance.

The second thing you should do, AS SOON AS YOU FIX YOUR LEAK is to call an environmental services company like Branch Services to dry out the area. The faster you catch water damage the less likely you will deal with a mold problem in the future. Don’t be fooled if something feels dry to the touch doesn’t mean moisture isn’t lurking underneath the surface.

Mold concerns

Mold will start to grow in the first 24 to 48 hours after a leak, under ideal conditions. Carpets get moldy very quickly. Older carpets that have dirt as a food source start smelling moldy after being wet just a short time. It may be a week or two before it grows to the extent that it is visible to the naked eye as spots on drywall or carpet pads.

Mold spores need three things to grow and thrive:

  1. Food (cotton, leather, drywall, wood, and paper products, among other things)
  2. Water (good circulation throughout the home is important to eliminate dampness or potential moisture, especially in attics, basements, crawl spaces, and laundry rooms)
  3. Optimal temperatures

The single best method for eliminating these spores in your home is through the use of a certified mold remediation professional.

Branch is now officially a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise

Branch is proud to announce that we have met the qualifications for The Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Certification Program. The program’s goal strengthen diversity in the state.

Branch Services is committed to providing opportunities to all Long Islanders who are committed to the fire, flood and mold restoration business. We are proud of our hardworking staff and owners who have decades of experience behind them and look forward to continuing to serve the community for years to come.

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Long Island Mold Remediation

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In the beginning of this year a Long Island Mold Remediation Law requiring that assessors and contractors in the mold
remediation industry and their workers are properly trained and licensed. Branch Services is in compliance with this law
and will continue to be the mold remediation contractor you can count on.
Since January 1, 2016 all Mold Remediation Contractors, and Assessors must be licensed by the New York State
Department of Labor.  The licensing requirements state that no person shall be licensed to conduct mold-related services
unless they: (a) are eighteen years of age or older; (b) have satisfactorily completed Department of Labor-approved
course work, including training on the appropriate use and care of personal protection equipment as approved by the
Commissioner of the Department of Health; and (c) have paid the appropriate fees. The licensing requirements prohibit
any contractor to engage in mold assessment or mold remediation without a valid license issued by the Commissioner of
Labor which must be present and on display at the worksite. The bill also prohibits a person licensed to perform mold-
related services from acting as both the mold assessment contractor and the mold remediation contractor, in other
words, contractors who currently provide mold inspections and perform the remediation as well, will no longer be able to
do so. Individuals will only be allowed to be a licensed Mold Assessor or a licensed Mold Remediator, NOT BOTH.
Persons who conduct home inspections as part of potential real estate transactions must also be licensed as a “Mold
Assessor” if their inspections/reports include an assessment of mold conditions in the home or property in question.
“Mold assessment” means an inspection or assessment of real property that is designed to discover mold, conditions that
facilitate mold, indication of conditions that are likely to facilitate mold, or any combination thereof.”
Persons who perform Mold Abatement (Remediation) must be licensed as Mold Remediation Contractor.  “Mold
Remediation” or “Mold Abatement” means the act of removal, cleaning, sanitizing, or surface disinfection of mold, mold
containment, and waste handling of mold and materials used to remove mold from surfaces by an individual.
If you have any questions about mold remediation or mold testing give us a call.
External Link….
https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/safetyhealth/mold/mold-program.shtm

Tips to Passing A Home Inspection

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Selling a home is stressful enough. Even if you find a buyer, homeowners can be blindsided by problems uncovered by an inspection. Before you sell , make sure these common home inspection issues don’t put a wrench in selling your home.

1. Faulty wiring. Worn or outdated systems and jerry rigged additions are the most common defects, especially in older homes. Any major issues with electrical systems must be addressed immediately.

2. Roof problems. Roofs can be expensive to be repaired/replaced.  An old, damaged roof can also mean water problems and entirely new headaches.

3. Heating/cooling system defects. Improper installations, inadequate maintenance and aged components are common.

4. Plumbing issues. The most common defects are leaking, outdated systems. Repairs can often be made, but on occasion total system replacement is the only solution.

5. Inadequate insulation and ventilation in attic. Poor insulation and poor ventilation cause excessive utility costs.

6. Whole house is poorly maintained. When a house is left to fall into disrepair, it represents a potential high cost situation to bring the home back into good condition. If the homeowner did not properly care for the home, someone will need to later.

7. Poor drainage. If there are drainage issues, water damage isn’t far behind.  Make sure drainage issues are taken care of. Roof gutters and downspouts can sometimes be added to rectify site drainage problems.

8. Cracks in walls & windows. If air can get in, so can water. Water damage leads to costly repairs in the future.

9. Minor structural damage. Cut and broken trusses are often seen in attic cavities and on occasion we also see structural components missing. Usually repairs are needed, however we find it is rarely an imminent safety hazard.

10. Mold. Signs of mold growth can kill a contract. Homebuyers should consider a complete environmental evaluation of the property before buying.

Long Island Hurricane Deductibles

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Homeowners who experience their first hurricane are frequently awestruck by the unharnessed power of Mother Nature. Unfortunately, once the storm passes, they’re often blindsided by the special — and costly — hurricane insurance deductible they didn’t know was buried in their homeowners policy.

How hurricane deductibles work

Unlike most deductibles which has a set dollar rate, hurricane deductible is based on a percentage of your home’s total value. The out-of-pocket cost can be much higher than what you’d face with the dollar-amount deductibles commonly used for fire damage and theft.

If the home you insured for $300,000 has a 5 percent hurricane deductible, you would be responsible for the first $15,000 in hurricane damage as defined by the policy. With a standard, non-hurricane deductible, you might pay just the first $500 of a home insurance claim out of your own pocket.

In some states, homeowners may be able to get a dollar-amount hurricane deductible by agreeing to pay a higher premium, though in high-risk shore areas the percentage deductibles may be unavoidable.

How Hurricane is defined.

You should be aware of the trigger, or benchmark for what qualifies as a hurricane for your policy. For some policies for example, you won’t have to worry about your policy’s hurricane deductible unless the weather service has determined that a Category 1 hurricane has made landfall. You should ask your insurance agent about the trigger for your deductible.

Beware of “Windstorm Deductable”

Even when a hurricane deductible does not apply, homeowners can still find themselves on the hook for hefty out-of-pocket costs.  Some homeowners are subject to a similar percentage-based “windstorm deductible,” which applies regardless of any hurricane declaration.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing

These kind of percentage deductibles helps keep insurance costs down over all by bringing costs of premiums down in high risk areas.

Be Prepared for Hurricane Season

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Well, hurricane season has arrived. While experts are predicting a mild storm season this year, it is best to be prepared. After all, even a comparatively mild storm can cause serious damage. Here are some tips to get you prepared for severe weather.

 

1. Get flood insurance.

Most basic homeowner insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.  Go over your  policy to make sure you are covered for flooding or water damage. If you need to purchase flood insurance visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/faqs/how-can-i-get-flood-insurance.jsp

2. Have an evacuation plan for your family (and your pets!)

Evacuation orders are not made lightly and should be taken seriously.  Making arrangements with friends or family who live on higher ground can help you avoid staying in a shelter.  Some shelters started to allow pets, but space fills up quickly . Making arrangements beforehand ensures you and all members of your family will be safe during the storm.

3.  Make an emergency survival kit

Now you don’t have to prepare for all out Armageddon, but you should have enough tools and supplies to survive without electricity or utilities for up to two weeks. This site has a great checklist of things you may need.

https://www.uscg.mil/d7/airstaBorinquen/docs/HurricanePage/Suggested%20Hurricane%20Supply%20Kits%20.pdf

4.  Mitigate any damage that a flood could cause

Sometimes flooding is unavoidable. In cases like this you need to make sure the water does as little damage as possible. Make sure you have proper drainage and barriers to keep flood waters out.  If storm surge is expected make sure to keep rugs, boxes, anything that can get damaged by water off the lower floors.  If you live in a flood zone look into raising your house or taking other precautions to help mitigate the damage when a flood does hit.

Mold Remediation Specialist Gives Hurricane Tips

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According to our mold remediation specialist, June marks the start of hurricane season. Hurricane Sandy showed us that New York is not immune to the powerful storms. While wind damage can wreak havoc on power lines and trees, the real danger to Long Island homes is flooding.

If you live in a flood zone, make sure you carry the proper insurance for flood. Many homeowners find out much too late that they did not have the coverage for the massive and costly damage to their homes.

There isn’t much you can do once the flood waters hit. Once the water reaches the level of your floor and goes an inch above, you have significant damage. There are steps you can take to mitigate the damage done to your home.

 

  • Safeguard in-home electrical and climate systems

Raise switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring at least a foot above the expected flood level in your area.

 

Modify your furnace, water heater and any other anchored indoor equipment so that it sits above your property’s flood level.

 

Anchor and raise outdoor equipment

 

Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be anchored and raised above your flood level.

Modify water valves

A flooded sewer system can cause sewage to back up into your home. Installing an interior or exterior backflow valve can help mitigate that.

 

 

  • Determine how water flows around your house

Called the grading or slope, the angle of the ground can direct water to or from your house.

It’s best if the home was built so that water drains away from the building.

 

  • Take Drastic Action

If your home floods frequently and moving isn’t an option, you may need to take drastic and costly measures.

Raise your home on piers or columns so that the lowest floor is above the flood level

“Wet-proof” your home by installing foundation vents that would allow water to flow through the building, instead of rising inside and causing more damage. You’d need at least two vents on different walls.

Do some “dry proofing” by applying coatings and other sealing materials to your walls to keep out floods.

  • Take last-minute measures as waters rise

Clear gutters, drains and downspouts.

Move furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings to upper floors, or at least raise them off a ground floor.

Shut off electricity at the breaker panel.

Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they’re potentially in harm’s way from flooding.

 

Mold Expert: Use Spring Cleaning to Catch Mold Problems

springcleaning

Now that this winter is finally over , it is time to start Spring Cleaning! One step people might not think of is to check for excess moisture that could lead to mold growth and take steps to prevent mold from becoming a problem in the home.
Molds are everywhere in the environment and can grow on virtually any organic substance where moisture and oxygen are present. Mold growth will often occur when excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials. If the moisture problem remains unaddressed, it can affect your home’s indoor air quality and the health of people sensitive to mold, too

To avoid that, here are some tips you can use:

If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source.
Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
Identify and fix plumbing leaks and other water problems immediately.
Clean air conditioning drip pans regularly and make sure the drain lines are unobstructed and flowing properly.
When water leaks or spills occur indoors clean them up immediately.
Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent — ideally between 30 and 50% . (Humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive instrument available at many hardware stores.)
Scrub any visible mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water and dry the area completely.

Insurance Guide to Winter Storm Damage

This was a pretty brutal winter, but what if you have damage caused by the weather? Will your home owner’s insurance cover it? Here is a great info graphic from Insurance.com. If you have any questions about weather related damage to your house, please give us a call!

 

Must-know guidelines for insurance coverage after a superstorm
Courtesy of: Insurance.com

Beware of frozen pipes

burst pipe

A frozen pipe can lead to needing flood remediation. Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

Surprisingly ice alone forming in a pipe is not what causes it to break. It’s the continual freezing and expansion that causes water pressure to increase downstream, between the ice blockage and the closed faucet at the end. It’s this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure and usually the pipe will burst where little or no ice has formed.

Frozen pipes are one of the biggest risks of property damage when the temperature drops. The cost of damages can result to more than $5,000.00 to repair.

If you should find yourself faced with a pipe break situation, call us. We have 24 hour emergency

services available and will do our very best to bring your home back to its pre-loss condition as soon as possible.