Puff Back


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


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  


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..

Only Hire Certified Mold Remediation Specialists


There are a lot of mold remediation companies out there. With little regulation in New York State almost anyone can just take a course and call themselves experts. These so called “experts” pose a threat to homeowners across Long Island and New York State. Mold is toxic and can cause serious health problems; if a mold problem is not taken care of properly the consequences could be dire.

Although a company is not required to carry a special license for Mold Removal in New York, they suggest that any contractor should carry insurance which includes their work performing mold remediation. They should not recommend fogging or general spraying of biocides. Not completing an inspection before providing a written quote is a giant red flag.

Quotes should include a description of removal/disposal/cleaning methods to be used, a detailed list of specific work to be done, and methods for protecting the remainder of the home and occupants. Final payment should not be due until the work is successfully completed.

It is of the utmost importance that your contractor carries an IICRC certification for mold remediation.

The Instititue of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC) sets the industry standards for Mold Removal

. Just like mechanics or  members of the American Medical Association and American Bar Association set themselves apart through training, experience and comprehensive examination, IICRC certification helps to immediately identify the cleaning, restoration and inspection industries’ most skilled and dedicated technicians and businesses.

Always ask to make sure your mold remediation contractor is certified in mold remediation by an accredited institution.

For more information please visit http://branchservicesinc.com/mold.php or call (800) 734-9947.