Mold Remediation Specialist Gives Hurricane Tips

mold

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

Ice Dams Can Cause Mold

icedamn

Ice dams cause water damage, water damage causes mold, mold requires mold remediation. Ice dams form when melting snow on a roof freezes at the edge of a roof. This happens because the underside of the roof in the attic is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This warm attic air heats the outside roof surface to the point that snow melts. When roof snow is melted by a warm attic space, the water runs between the snow and warm roof surface. The water freezes and turns to ice when it gets past the exterior wall and hits a cold unheated roof edge or gutter. The ice dam grows as the snow continues to melt, and as water continues to flow down the roof surface. When the water flow hits the ice it creates a larger and larger ice dam. Ice dams can create damage to not only your roof and gutters, they can cause interior damage as well. Water from the melting snow and ice can find their way under shingles and behind exterior walls. In some cases, if the right temperature and humidity exist, mold may begin to grow in the attic. Often paint will peel or blister weeks or months after the ice dam had melted as moisture from the leak in the wall or ceiling cavities tries to leave and pushes outward.

 

How do you battle an ice damming situation?

Act fast with a special tool called a roof rake—

After a heavy snow use your roof rake to remove at least the first 4 feet of snow from the roofs edge to help prevent damage

Apply calcium chloride or an ice melt to the ice dam—

Be careful if you choose this method as you will most likely need to utilize a ladder which is not recommended in cold and icy conditions.

Professional Ice Dam Removal—

There are professional companies available that are insured and will remove your ice dam using professional equipment such as high pressure steam. This approach may cost a few hundred dollars but the prevention of damage to your home may be significant.

If you are experiencing water damage due to an ice damming situation, give us a call. We offer expert services in water damage remediation and provide free estimates. Feel free to learn more about us and the services we provide by logging onto 631-467-6600

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.

Fire Damage Restoration: What you need to know

fire damage restoration

What you need to know about fire damage remediation:

There’s plenty of information available on how to prevent fires in the home but what happens… in the event that you (unfortunately) have a fire?  Now what?  Here’s some advice on what to do….

Contact your insurance company IMMEDIATELY after the fire is out. They can provide advice on how to handle the aftermath of your fire and possibly be able to recommend a professionalfire restorer, such as us… Branch Services. Fire restorers can provide services to prevent furtherdamage, help determine which items can or cannot be refurbished and which structural items do and do not need to be repaired or replaced. They provide estimates to insurance companies for the cost of damages and will help walk you through the process of thoroughly deodorizing, cleaning and repairing your home. You can find the names of certified fire restorers through the IICRC websitehttp://www.iicrc.org/consumers/. Here you can search for restorers who have been educated and certified by the IICRC.

Here are some additional tips to follow after the event of a fire.

Safety Tips During Restoration

Do not use electrical appliances that have been near a fire.

Do not use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet.

Do not touch anything during your first inspection to prevent transferring soot from item to item.

Do not wash drapes or other materials that may require dry cleaning.

Do not hesitate to seek professional help in restoration effort.

Hiring a professional to do the clean up after a fire is always recommended for additional information on why you should choose to use a certified professional, click on the following link….

 

http://www.iicrc.org/why-professionals-should-clean-smoke-damage-from-fire-a-38.html

Puff Back

puffback

What is a puff back you ask? It’s not something that is soft and cuddly, that is for sure… it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s dirty, dingy and a real pain to clean up. Incomplete combustion of oil fired furnaces that begin operating at the beginning of the winter season can cause an effect that is commonly known in the industry as a “puff back”.

What is the cause of incomplete combustion in oil fired furnaces? Usually a faulty ignition switch.

When the ignition fails to light properly, oil fumes accumulate in the chamber of the furnace. If stalled long enough, these fumes will cause a small explosion when the pilot light finally ignites. This mini explosion will blow every little piece of dust and soot in your baseboard heating system or duct system all over EVERYTHING in your home. Drapes, blinds, furniture, bedding, clothing, floors, carpets, dishes, appliances, etc.

Soot is a powder like substance and is black and sticky. You cannot clean soot with a regular sponge, towel, paper towel, etc. The cleaning of soot requires special sponges and cleaning products that are used by professionals. In addition to this stick sooty mess, an odor will also be present which is similar to that of an oil smell. This odor is difficult to remove and requires the services of a professional to remove as well. A professional certified home restoration company such as Branch Services is experienced with handling puff back situations for over 25 years. A puff back can occur in large proportion such as the situation just mentioned or in small proportion, over a period of time. If you notice black soot accumulating on carpet around heating vents or baseboard, or on surfaces inside your home, chances are you are experiencing a small scale puff back.

Asbestos Abatement Long Island

Asbestos is a dangerous material that is still present in many buildings today. When intact it poses little threat, but once it starts breaking down it can prove dangerous. Removal of asbestos is taken very seriously and must be done by licensed professionals. If you need asbestos abatement, you should be aware of a few things.

If you need asbestos removed from your home, you will need to hire a contractor that is licensed with  New York State Department of Labor.  Before you hire any contractor make sure to check the status of their license at this website.  https://www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/safetyhealth/DOSH_ASBESTOS.shtm. 

This website is also a great resource for finding a qualified, licensed asbestos abatement contractor in their area.

The NY Dept of Labor requires contractors notify them when they have an asbestos removal job that is over a certain number of square or linear feet. The state charges fees based on the size of the job. Unfortunately these fees are unavoidable. When hiring your contractor, make sure their quote reflects these fees so you are not caught off guard.
Linear Feet – ( This would be for pipe or boiler insulation)
0-259                    $0.00
260-429               $200.00
430-824               $400.00
825-1649             $400.00
825-1649             $1,000.00
1650 or more     $2,000.00

Square Feet – (This would be for floor tile or shingles)
1-159                    $0.00
160-259               $200.00
260-499               $400.00
500-999               $1,000.00
1,000 or more    $2,000.00

Finally, all asbestos projects that are notified to the DOL must have an independent third party air sampling firm hired to take air samples.  The firm must be contracted by the property owner or owner’s agent. The firm must be completely independent of all asbestos abatement contractors involved with the asbestos project.

Water Damage Restoration Long Island

flood

What you need to know about water damage restoration on Long Island:

The following information was provided by the IICRC.

Whether insured or not, it is important for property owners to document damage with photographs or video, and immediately begin loss mitigation procedures themselves; or hire a qualified contractor to do this on their behalf. It is totally inappropriate to put off mitigation while waiting for an insurance claims representative to arrive on the scene to evaluate the loss. By that time, in all probability sufficient time will have passed to grow and amplify microorganisms, which may not be covered by insurance. Loss mitigation is defined by insurance policies as “reasonable and prudent measures designed to preserve, protect and secure property from further damage,” including microbial growth and amplification.

There are three categories of water that cause damage in buildings. They are summarized as follows:

Category 1 Water – That which is clean at the releasing source and does not pose a hazard if consumed by humans. Category 1 water may become progressively contaminated as it mixes with soils on or within floor coverings or building assemblies (walls, decking, subflooring). Time and temperature, which promote the growth and amplification of microorganisms in water can cause Category 1 water to degrade. Examples: burst water pipes, failed supply lines on appliances, vertically falling rainwater.

Category 2 Water – That which begins with some degree of contamination and could cause sickness or discomfort if consumed by humans. As with Category 1 water, time and temperature can cause Category 2 water to become progressively more contaminated.

Category 3 Water – That which is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans. Examples: sewage, rising flood water from rivers and streams, ground surface water flowing horizontally into homes. There are two ways in which water enters a building as a result of wind storm damage:

The first involves falling or windblown rainwater that enters as a result of damage to roof components or wall assemblies. The second involves horizontally traveling ground surface water (Category 3) containing silt and soil contaminants that infiltrate into structures, generally through doors or around foundation walls. This ground surface water (storm surge) may accumulate to a depth of several inches or several feet. When structures are partially submerged or remain substantially flooded for weeks, far more elaborate procedures usually are required.

Most household microorganisms (fungi, bacteria) typically require five conditions for germination, growth, amplification and dissemination. Generally, they include:

• organic food source, especially cellulose (e.g., paper, wood), which are found in abundance in construction materials
• moisture, even high humidity (67% RH plus)
• moderate temperature – 68-86°F/20-30°C
• stagnant air
• time – several hours to several days

Anything that can be done to control or minimize these optimum conditions will prolong the time required for microbial growth.

Finding a Legitimate Mold Remediation Contractor  

mold-inspection

Unlike for other hazardous materials removal, there is no licensing available in New York State for Mold Remediation Contractors. In fact, almost any contractor can say that they are a mold remediation contractor, even if they have not been properly trained to do so at all.

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.

 

Best ways to help secure that you are hiring a qualified mold remediation contractor are…

  • Check with the county that you live in (Nassau, Suffolk, etc.) to make sure they have a valid Home Improvement Contractors License. This will help ensure that the contractor is properly insured as well. The home owner should be able to confirm this by going onto their county website.
  • If you live in a township such as Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island –  There  is additional licensing that a contractor must obtain to be a legitimate contractor in these particular towns.  Some towns do not require separate licensing but these towns do.
  • Make sure the potential contractor has the proper training through the IICRC.  The IICRC website is http://www.iicrc.org/.  Here you can enter the potential contractors name and do a search to make sure they are a certified firm by the IICRC.

 

  • The Better Business Bureau is a good way to validate the integrity of a contractor. Too many complaints with the BBB  is a huge red flag.
  • Angie’s List – If the homeowner happens to be a member of Angie’s list, they can always research their contractor through them.  The higher the Angie’s list ratings and reviews the better quality of contractor a homeowner will receive.
  • Meet with a few contractors before making a decision.  Take the time to discuss your concerns and educate yourself on the type of protocol the contractor uses when performing a mold remediation project.

If you suspect your home might have a problem with mold, as with all contractors, it is best to do your homework in order to prevent future headaches..