Preventing Burst Pipes

burst pipe

The damages, expenses and the messes that can be caused from a burst pipe are nothing that anyone wants to deal with.  Burst pipes occur when water coming in to the house from outside causes your pipes to contract and this contraction often causes leaks from areas of the pipe that had weakened over time.

While you can’t control the temperature, you can keep an eye on your plumbing system as the temperatures change and check to see if you have any leaks. Luckily there are things you can do to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.

  1. Keep the Water Running

Water moving through the system should prevent the line from freezing. If it is extremely cold outside, keep one or two faucets running slowly at all times.

  1. Get Heat to the Drafty Parts of your House.

Often times, the pipes that freeze are located near an outside wall or a window, so be sure to direct warm air to any colder areas of your home.

  1. Keep Your Kitchen Cabinets Open

If your kitchen sink is on an outside wall (it usually is), be sure to leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air into the cabinet. Your kitchen faucet is usually a good faucet to leave on during extremely cold weather.

  1. Disconnect your Hoses

If you leave your hoses connected, water is not able to drain out of your hose bib and will likely freeze and break the device.

  1. Keep the Cold Air Out

Seal leaks that allow cold air into your home where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.

  1. Keep Your House Warm

Prevent temperatures from dropping below 32 degrees in any areas of your home where water lines are located.

Weathering the Storm: Stay Safe During a Hurricane

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As another hurricane barrels up the coastline it is important to remember hurricane safety.

If a hurricane watch or warning is issued it generally means that the storm will hit within thirty-six hours. During a watch or a warning you should take precautions to secure property, stock up on supplies and go over your emergency evacuation plans. Here are some steps and precautions you should take before any major storm.

 

Before the Storm

  • Have a disaster plan in place. Have a place your family can go in case you need to evacuate.
  • Don’t forget your pets! Before a storm threatens, contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency. Look up shelters that accept pets. Make sure you have paper work and pet carriers all ready to go.
  • Board or tape up your windows.
  • Bring in outdoor objects that could blow away.
  • Know where all the evacuation routes are.
  • Prepare a disaster supplies kit for your home and car. Have enough food and water for at least 3 days. Include a first aid kit, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, battery-operated radio, flashlight, protective clothing and written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water.
  • Have a radio handy with plenty of batteries, so you can listen to storm advisories when the power goes out. Don’t rely on cell phone service!
  • Have some cash handy. Following a hurricane, banks and ATMs may be temporarily closed.
  • Make sure your car is filled with gas.

 

During the Storm

  • Always stay indoors during a hurricane, because strong winds will blow things around.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Have some board games and other activities that don’t require electricity on hand to keep occupied during the storm.
  • Leave mobile homes and to go to a shelter.
  • If your home isn’t on higher ground, go to a shelter.
  • If emergency managers say to evacuate, then do so immediately.

 

After the Storm.

 

  • Stay indoors until it is safe to come out.
  • Check for injured or trapped people, without putting yourself in danger.
  • Watch out for flooding which can happen after a hurricane.
  • Do not attempt to drive in flooding water.
  • Stay away from standing water. It may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Don’t drink tap water until officials say its safe to do so.
  • If there is damage to your home, contact your insurance company.

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.

branchmwbecert

Hurricane Insurance and other Hurricane Safety Tips

hurricane

We are in the middle of Hurricane season. While it doesn’t happen too often, New York sometimes gets hit with a major storm that causes serious destruction. Because super storms are so rare, we are often caught unprepared for such disasters like Irene or Sandy. So how does one prepare for a hurricane?

These 6 tips can help you plan ahead so you never have to face a storm unprepared.

  1. Check your insurance coverage

Flood insurance mandates have changed since Sandy.  Make sure your policy reflects the current state of your home. Consider adding flood insurance and coverage for additional living expenses in case your home is uninhabitable after a storm.

  1. Do a home inventory

A home inventory can save you time and make filing a claim easier, ensuring you don’t forget anything. Document the contents of your home with a video camera or other home inventory tool. Keep receipts for valuable items and consider separate coverage for these things.

  1. Protect Your Property :
  • Install hurricane shutters or keep ¾ inch outdoor plywood boards for each window. If using boards, be sure to install anchors and pre-drill holes so you can put them up quickly.
  • Head and foot bolts on doors for extra protection.
  • Hurricane straps or clips to help hold the roof to the walls of your home.
  • A safe room that can withstand high winds and flying debris.
  • Also, be sure to keep up with your landscaping; diseased and damaged tree limbs can become serious hazards in high-speed storm winds.
  1. Create a Disaster Supply Kit
  • A 2-week supply of water and ready-to-eat, non-perishable food for every family member and pet.  (If you evacuate, you’ll want a 3-day supply of the same. )
  • Manual can opener
  • Essential medicines including eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • Personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Change of clothing
  • Paper towels, hand sanitizer, and eating utensils
  • First-aid kit
  • Battery-powered flashlight and radio with extra batteries
  • Blankets, pillows and sleeping bags
  • Mosquito repellant and citronella candles
  • 2 coolers—one for food, one for ice
  • Plastic tarp for roof/window repairs and tools
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members

 

  1. Have an established evacuation plan

Every family should have an evacuation plan and a backup. If you don’t have transportation of your own, make arrangements now with friends or family members and don’t forget about the pets! If you have any family members, friends or neighbors with disabilities ask them about their evacuation plan.You want to make sure the whole family is covered, so identify an out-of-state contact that everyone will call if separated and establish a meeting location at least 50 miles inland.

 

  1. Keep important papers with you
  • Driver’s license or personal ID
  • Social security card
  • Proof of residence (deed, lease or utility bills)
  • Insurance policies (home, auto, flood, wind)
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Stocks, bond and other negotiable certificates
  • Wills, deeds, and copies of recent tax returns
  • Personal checkbook and any unpaid bills
  1. Don’t take silly risks like running back into a home that’s been destroyed or refuse to evacuate when you’ve been ordered to, just to salvage material possessions. Things can be replaced, but people cannot.

 

Where to Find a State Licensed Mold Remediation Contractor

mold-inspection

A new law went into affect mandating  that a State Licensed Mold Remediation Contractor on Long Long Island must be properly trained. Branch Services is in compliance with this law and will continue to be the mold remediation contractor you can count on.

Hiring an inexperienced contractor, ill equipped to handle such a job could cost you thousands of dollars and put your family’s health at risk. There are ways to protect yourself, however, by following these simple mold remediation contractor guidelines given by Branch Services of Long Island, New York.

To find out if a contractor is licensed in the state to perform mold testing or mold remediation you can check out this site.

We at Branch Services are prepared for this new law and are licensed as a Mold Remediation Contractor.  Standard Industry Certifications that were accredited in the past do not apply to the current licensing requirements.  We have been in compliance with the new law by January 1, 2016 and will continue to be the mold remediation contractor you can count on.

Are you required to carry flood insurance?

Over the last 50 years flooding has been on the rise. Increasing precipitation combined with more waterfront property being built creates a perfect storm for flood damage.

Many insurance policies don’t cover flooding, even floods that occur through nature. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has identified communities that are at risk for flooding, FEMA has assigned a character from the alphabet to each zone. The zone your home is located in will indicate the risk of flooding and which type of flood insurance you are required to carry

Here is a basic break down of the FEMA Flood Map Zones

V Zones

V Zones are properties that are beach front. They pose the biggest risk for damage from floods as rising tides and waves can sometimes wash entire houses away. Anyone in a V zone is required to carry comprehensive flood insurance.

A Zones

A zones – the next most volatile of the Special Flood Hazard Areas – are subject to rising waters and are usually near a lake, river, stream or other body of water. Flood insurance is mandatory in all A zones because of the high potential of flooding.  There are a number of sub-divisions of A zones you should make sure you understand the particular risks and recommendations for the one your house resides in.

X Zones

X Zones are minimal-risk areas where flood insurance is not mandatory, but a good idea as water damage can come from many sources.

D Zones

D zones are areas that have not been studied, but where flooding is possible.

  • How to find out what flood zone you are in?

Check with the local government agency to see flood zone maps for your area. Most counties and towns have flood zone maps available for public view. FEMA provides copies of the latest and most up-to-date flood zone maps for most communities.

Compare your home location to the flood zone map boundaries to see if you’re in a flood zone. Some flood zones are considered a greater risk than others. The maps will give you details about which type of flood zone insurance you may need, depending on the risk to your property.

Long Island Mold Remediation

moldremediationlaw

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

Catch us at the Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo!

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Next Wednesday (3/16) Branch Services will be exhibiting at the Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo

“The Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo is the event dedicated to improving economic activity on Long Island through the commercial real estate industry. The show is for Long Island and is produced by Long Islanders. It offers unique programs featuring business leaders discussing issues that affect the business climate.”

You can visit their Website here

http://www.longislandrealestateexpo.com/

Snow Melt Flooding

mold removal long island

This past snow storm brought a mix of floods and over 2 feet of snow which is a water damage double whammy. Many insurance companies require separate and specific coverage for water damage and as 26+ inches of snow melts, even if you aren’t in a flood zone, you may be faced with flood damage.

Here are some tips to keep the flood waters at bay and preventing water damage from costing you.

  • Safeguard in-home electrical and climate systems

Keep electrical outlets, wiring, circuit breakers at least a foot above flood level in your home.

Furnace, water heaters and burners should be elevated as well.

Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be anchored and raised above your flood level. Keep them clear of ice and snow.

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

Check to see where water flows on your property, ideally it will flow away from your home, but if it doesn’t you might want to take extra precautions against water coming into your home

  • 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. In some states grant money or tax incentives may be available to help you with this.

“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. Clear ice and snow from your roof and gutters to prevent ‘ice dams’

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.

  • Dont wait to take care of dampness

Even if major flooding didn’t occur the smallest amount of dampness in the walls, rugs or floors can cause a serious mold problem come spring.  As the snow melts check basements, atticks, windows and door jams for potential dampness and if there is doubt call a professional mold remediation expert for advice.

Fire Remediation and Holiday Fires

 

Long Island Fire Remediation

Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.

Cooking

During the holiday hustle and bustle it is easy to get distracted. Cooking fires are common during the holidays because of food left unattended while it is cooking. Make sure your attention is focused on the task at hand and always make sure there is a fire extinguisher within reach in case a fire does start.

If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.

Candles

Candle fires are highest during the holiday season To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.

Christmas Trees

It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames.  To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources and flames

Fireplaces

Make sure your chimney is clean before you start using it for the season. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood and keep garland and Christmas trees far enough away from embers.