Faucet on frozen pipes

6 Tips to Keep Frozen Pipes from Bursting

Posted on by Branch Contractors



After the far-below-freezing night of January 6th, we received dozens of calls regarding frozen pipes bursting. The pipes freeze, expand, crack, and then flow freely when they thaw. It’s not pretty, and we empathize with our clients in this situation.

It can happen to anyone when it’s that cold — 7°F! — so we want to provide a few tips on how to prevent frozen pipes from bursting, ruining parts of your home, and certainly ruining your day.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes from Bursting

1. Find out where your water shut off valve is.

It’s usually by the street and has a metal cover over the inground box. The valve is inside and can be closed using a crescent wrench or a water shut off tool found at most hardware and home improvement stores for under $10. Turn the valve clockwise, or to the right, to shut off the water. Don’t wait for the emergency—find it in advance. If you’re not sure where it is, call the water department and ask them to show you where it is located.

2. Leave the sink faucet dripping overnight.

You’ve likely heard this one, but it’s a good practice to remember. Unfortunately, if the temperature drops low enough, the water flow won’t always save your pipes. Note: We DON’T recommend this for outdoor faucets. See tip 6 below to learn how to protect outdoor faucets.

3. Make sure you have adequate insulation in the walls.

Most of the frozen lines that we’ve fixed have been in exterior walls, which you can’t easily open to investigate. It may be worth calling an insulation provider to check how protected your water pipes are. Insulation should be on the exterior side of the pipes.

4. Heat pipes from the inside the house.

If you think you have a non-insulated wall and you have access to it on the inside, a space heater in the adjacent room can help keep lines warm and prevent them from freezing.

5. Insulate water wall lines in the attic.

A lot of pipe bursts happen in attics. Do you have exposed, non-insulated water lines in your attic? If you can see them, then the answer is yes. Cold air coming in through soffit vents can freeze your pipes inside the attic. The attic is a really bad place for a leak, because the leak can soak the ceiling below it and cause it to come crashing down. By properly insulating your attic, you protect your pipes and save on energy costs.

6. Cover outdoor faucets.

The best thing to do on the outside of the house is to use outdoor faucet covers. These come in various styles and are constructed of plastic, styrofoam, or even fabric. Don’t wait until the day of the cold-snap, because like milk and bread at the grocery store, faucet covers are one of the first items to sell out when cold weather is on the way.

In that case, wrap your faucets with towels, insulation, and waterproofing material, like a garbage bag or or plastic sheeting. Secure with bungie cords and/or duct tape. Ideally, pick up the store-bought covers next time you’re near a home improvement store. Better early than sorry!

Unfortunately, even with all these precautions if it gets cold enough your pipes can still freeze and burst. If that happens, stay calm and follow our quick guide on what to do if your pipes burst!

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Flooding after burst pipes

Burst Pipes and Flooding: A 6 Step Plan of Action

Posted on by Branch Contractors

After the frozen first week of January, calls about burst pipes started pouring in. Dozens of folks suddenly had a lot of water on their hands, and the below-freezing weather didn’t help. We don’t usually get this many calls about burst pipes because it usually doesn’t get this cold in the Athens area. But freezing temperatures aren’t the only culprit of unexpected flooding. Dishwashers, washing machines, and toilets can all flood and cause serious damage to your home. What do you do in these situations?

First Steps to Take When Your Home is Flooding

1. Stay calm, find the water shut off valve, and turn it off!

It’s usually by the street and has a metal cover over the inground box. The valve is inside and can be closed using a crescent wrench or a water shut off tool found at most hardware and home improvement stores. Turn the valve clockwise, or to the right, to shut off the water. It is incredibly helpful to know where the water valve is located before the disaster happens. Make it a goal to make sure you know where it is before going to bed tonight. Your local water department is happy to help. While you’re turning off the valve, have someone call us so we can get there ASAP to help. Add our number into your phone now in case of emergency: (706) 310-0097.

2. Begin containing water in a single area.

Use buckets, towels, and/or a shop vac to keep the water from running all over your home. Essentially, you’re trying to sand bag in an area to prevent further damage.

3. Keep the water away from hardwood floors if at all possible.

Some hardwood floors can be refinished, but some have to be removed and replaced. If you can contain the water in a room with tile or vinyl floors, you’ll be able to avoid an inconvenient remodel.

4. Use whatever you have to get the water out.

Scoop the water up with a dustpan or plastic container and throw it in the sink or out the door. It’s important to remove as much water as fast as you can to mitigate damage.

5. Remove all affected carpet pad.

If the flooding has reached your carpet, pull back the carpet and remove the wet carpet pad. If you don’t, the carpet pad will hold water like a sponge, allowing the water to soak into the subfloor and cause extensive, and expensive, damage.

6. Take pictures and document the damage and work you perform.

Do not forget this important step. If you plan to file an insurance claim, you will likely need documentation of the water damage and any work you performed to mitigate the damage. Pictures showing how far the water traveled are invaluable, as are pictures of wet carpet pads and the burst pipe or plumbing fitting. Some insurance companies will require you to submit the damaged water line or fitting, so make sure to ask your plumber to leave the damaged part with you after he or she performs the repair.

If you do these things right away, you can dramatically reduce the level of flooding damage in your home, but please don’t think “All under control, I’ll call Branch next week.” Mold can start growing in 48 hours! Water behind baseboards and cabinets, wet carpet tack strips and other areas that are hard to reach are a ticking mold time bomb. Call a professional as soon as possible, or the problem will grow exponentially and become much more expensive to fix. To learn how to prevent burst pipes in the future, check out our 6 ways to keep frozen pipes from bursting.

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Georgia Connector Magazine Features Branch: “Small Business Booms” Section

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Georgia Connector Branch featureWe are proud to announce that Branch Contractors is featured in the latest edition of Georgia Connector Magazine. It is an honor to be one of only three companies featured in the “Small Business Booms” Oconee section. Thank you, Georgia Connector, and thanks as always to all our loyal customers that made this possible. We always appreciate the opportunity to tell our story and share our thoughts on what it takes to succeed in the Oconee community.

There are tremendous opportunities in Oconee for disciplined, hard-working companies that prize quality and service above all.  In the article, our President & CEO David Branch offers his thoughts on what led Branch to success, and what can help other business grow, too:

“Practice slow, steady growth that you can sustain or maintain on a cash basis, don’t borrow money to grow where you may end up doing things or making promises that aren’t great ideas.”

David also attributes the company’s success to lessons learned from influential books, including Good to Great and Flawless Execution.

According to David, Good to Great states that the one thing keeping a company from being great is being really good. When companies feel comfortable, it keeps them from feeling great.”

Flawless Execution made David ask himself, “Why can’t we train our employees to have the same skill level or trust or accountability level as an Air Force pilot who flies a $30 million plane across the sky? It taught [me] to thoroughly plan everything, debrief after each project, discuss all mistakes, all the good things [we] did, as well as the lessons learned from the projects.”

To see the rest of the interview, please view the article or check out page 43 of the full magazine:

View the Article

Full Magazine

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David Branch

New Radio Spots: Know Who to Call in an Emergency

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Here at Branch, we consider it our mission to ensure locals know who to trust in an emergency. We recently launched two new radio spots about just that. In our first spot, we invite locals to imagine the very real possibility of waking up and rolling out of bed, but instead of finding slippers there’s only the unmistakable sound and feel of water. If that happens, it’s important to know who to call that very instant. Since getting online to lookup a number might not be possible, it might be a good move to go ahead and put our number in your phone now just in case. We can immediately take care of the problem while you go about your normal day, and our methods ensure no mold forms and there’s no other long-term damage. That’s peace of mind, and that’s the Branch Difference.

You can listen to this new “go to work” radio spot by clicking the below button:
Go To Work Radio Spot

In our next spot, we paint the all-too-common picture of a tree falling on your house during a storm while you’re away on vacation. No one wants to get that phone call from their neighbor. What do you do? Fortunately, they’ll tell you, “Don’t worry, I’ve called Branch Emergency Services – enjoy the rest of your vacation!” Imagine that! Imagine the Branch Difference, and you’ll understand why more Athens-area residents put our number in their phones BEFORE something unpredictable happens.

You can hear this new “vacation” spot by clicking the below button:

Stay on Vacation Radio Spot

We hope by now you’ve got a good idea of who to call when disaster strikes. Call us 24/7 at 706-310-0097, or better yet Contact Us to set up your pre-emergency walkthrough. After all, there’s no reason that an accident should become an emergency!

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Replace Washing Machine Hoses Every 5 Years to Avoid Disaster

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The washer supply and discharge hoses are often overlooked, but they are all too common culprits of water damage. When was the last time you inspected your washing machine supply hose? If it has been more than 5 years, you are gambling! I know firsthand that these hoses can sometimes last 30 years—that’s about how long they lasted for my grandparents—but this is definitely not the norm.

It may be that these older hoses fall under the whole “they don’t make things like they used to” category, but there is only one way to be certain, and I feel sure that you don’t want to wait until water shoots out the sides to find out. If it has been more than 5 years, go ahead and replace the washing machine hoses while everything is dry.

While You’re At It…

While you’re changing out the supply hoses, I suggest installing a new discharge hose, too. And since you’re back there already, clean out the dryer vent with the hose of your vacuum. Removing lint and other buildup from the dryer and the vent tubing will save electricity while reducing the risk of a fire.

If you’ve already learned that you need to replace washing machine hoses, and you found out the hard way, give us a call and we’ll repair the water damage in your home in no time.

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How to Prevent Water Damage from Your Ice Maker

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It’s vacation time, but before you head out on your trip, take time to perform a few measures to protect your home and prevent water damage.

Over the past 18 years, we’ve responded to more accidental water damage in homes and businesses than any other kind of damage. The amount of water damages that occur in Athens seems almost ridiculous. But in fact, it has little to do with Athens, and more to do with old or inferior plumbing components. Although you cannot prevent water damage of all kinds, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk.

The first on the list is to check your ice-maker line. Is it plastic or copper piping? Although both materials have their pros and cons, neither are suggested. Seeing problems from both types, we have made it standard at Branch to remove any plastic or copper hoses by installing reinforced or braided hoses. They thread on like water hoses, they are flexible, and although not fail-proof, they are currently the easiest and best solution.

So, take time to make this change and eliminate the ice-maker line as a source of water damage to your home. As an extra precaution, shut the main water supply off to your home if you will be out of town for an extended time. It could save you from a mess.

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Radio Spot: Put Branch Emergency Services into your phone for peace of mind

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Whether by accident, Mother Nature, or even just a well-intentioned child, house flooding or other emergency damage can occur to anyone, anywhere. Our new Cox Radio spot showcases why it pays to be prepared, and encourages listeners to take a moment to put our 24/7 line, 706-310-0097, in their phone. That way, you can skip the panic and rest assured the problem is resolved professionally and with industry-leading customer service.

When it comes to your home, average won’t do. There are far too many potential mold and structural issues to take any chances. For peace of mind, put Branch Emergency Services in your phone today.

The radio spot will appear through May on three separate channels, Country 106.1, Magic 102.1, and WGAU News 1340. Catch it on the airwaves or listen to the spot now by clicking the below link!

Branch Emergency Services Radio Spot

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storm damage repair athens ga

Branch is READY to Respond 24/7 to your Emergency

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“Ready! Ready for anything! Ready to work, play, serve, obey, worship, live, etc.”
Royal Ranger Motto

“Rain, sleet, flood or mud!” – Coach John Barnett

 

These two phrases have stuck with me since the day I heard them. I learned the Royal Ranger motto around the age of seven. I heard Coach Barnett’s famous saying when I was a senior in high school. There is a lot of meaning behind both of those quotes, and the combined takeaway for me is obviously: never be caught unprepared, but, rather, BE READY for ANYTHING!

That is what we do at Branch. We are prepared, and we will be ready. No matter what time, day or night, and no matter the extent or cause of damage. If you have the need for any emergency service, such as water removal, tree removal, vandalism board-ups, smoke removal, or any other incident, accident, or disaster: we are ready! Our trucks are stocked with nearly every reliable tool imaginable. That way, when we arrive to help you, we have everything we need to get the job done.

What would you do if a disaster struck? Would you be ready? We’re here to help. We invite you to learn more about our 24/7 Emergency Response Program and make a free appointment today.

Some issues to be ready for!

  • Basement Floods
  • Fire Damage
  • Storm Damage
  • Roof Rot

 

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David Branch on Becoming Part of the Dave Ramsey Family

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It was my 15th year of being in business: our growth was steady, our gross sales were up slightly, our customer satisfaction was very good, and our product was of high quality. I had no idea where to turn. Looking back at that statement, it almost makes no sense. If everything seemed to be going fine, and the bills were getting paid, why would knowing where to turn be an issue? Well, it’s because I was stressed out and overworked. I knew deep in my gut that I was in way over my head and could drown at any minute. But something told me that it didn’t have to be this way.

My wife and I are against debt, and we would watch the Dave Ramsey Show on the Fox Business Channel. Many times I had said to her how I wished that Dave taught a course on business. Then one night, there was an advertisement telling of the EntreLeadership Master Series. Wow, that was exactly what I was looking for: Dave teaching entrepreneurial leaders how to run a business God’s way. I was in!

I signed up and went, expecting another “business conference” where a person sits through a long, drawn-out class full of different speakers giving their opinions on how a business should be run. But my expectations were way too low. Dave taught this course himself, and it was obvious that the information being given was not just a presentation to sell. Instead, it was a mirror image of Dave’s playbook that he had put together through the years: lessons learned from his bloody noses, and his victories. This stuff was real and, better yet, I could experience the first-hand application of it through his team. On one hand, I was extremely impressed. On the other, I was depressed and disappointed in myself that he had been able to do such an awesome job running his company while I had done such a relatively poor job running mine. Things were going to change, and I now had the tools to make that change.

Although I learned an invaluable amount of business how-to’s, I truly believe that the greatest impact I received was from the way I was treated by Dave’s team. I was served extremely well, but I didn’t feel as much like a customer but, rather, a friend. My biggest lesson came when I realized the reason Dave’s team made me feel like a part of the family. It was because that was the culture he had created within his organization. It is obvious that he serves his people, looks out for them, encourages them, and gives them something great: a model of servant leadership.

That is where it began. I knew that if this organization was to be all that it could be, and if it was going to fulfill the purpose that God has placed it here for, then I was going to have to make a change and that change would have to begin with me. And so the long journey began.

Since the first EntreLeadership Master Series I attended in 2009, this place has been undergoing a complete transformation. Although we have made some huge strides, we have not even scraped the surface on making this place what it is going to be one day. However, I do have a plan.

First, I have had to realize who I am and how my leadership, or the lack of it, affects each person here. I must learn to lead. Next, I have had to redefine my relationship with my team, understanding that we all have a purpose for working here. The least of which is the paycheck, but I also must reward them appropriately for their contribution. The list goes on and on, and it’s a process I embrace.

Have you realized your leadership role? Who have you chosen as a mentor or to be your “wise counsel”?

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mold inspector athens ga

Mold inspector or construction repair company, who should you call? With Branch, you’re calling both.

Posted on by Branch Contractors

Many times when I am called to perform mold inspections, the building owner or tenant has no idea what is causing the mold or how far the damage extends. Often, I am called to inspect for mold and discover that the mold present is a result of a leaking water line or plumbing fixture, such as a toilet, shower, or water heater. When this is the case, the project is as much as, or more, a construction project as it is an environmental project. This situation typically requires two separate companies to handle everything. This is one situation that our customers benefit by using the Branch companies. Although Branch Environmental, Inc. and Branch Contractors, Inc. are separate entities and have different team members ( including our mold inspectors), the two companies are based out of the same building, have a close relationship, and collaborate to create the best repair and remediation plan that is easy and convenient to accomplish. The two companies are set up individually so that each team can concentrate its training and energy to excelling in its specialized field.

So no matter what your concern or need may be, the Branch companies are specialized to handle it. We invite you to read a popular post our friends at Branch Environmental wrote on this very topic:

 

Who would you call: the environmentally-connected repair company or the construction-based environmental company? If you call Branch, both worlds are covered.

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