A dirty jobsite is a pet peeve of mine. There is absolutely no excuse for a messy or unorganized project. The cleanliness and orderliness of a job is a direct reflection of the people doing the work. I used to be that guy who did the work, made the mess, and spent more time and money cleaning up my mess than I did making it. Working messy is no way to make a customer happy, and it is not the way to make money either.
I will never forget the last time that I did not take time to properly protect and maintain my work area. About 10 years ago, I had built a really nice screened-in living space. It had tongue and groove floors, wall and ceilings, a stacked stone full masonry fireplace with many bells and whistles. It was something I was proud of. As nice as it was, I still lacked the level of detail that, as a result of this project, I now have.
The job went great, but on the last day, after all work and cleanup was complete, I scheduled what I thought was the final walk-thru and had planned to pick up my last payment. The customer and I walked around the project, checked off each item, and then, out of nowhere, this customer, pointed out grit that had gotten between the boards. Now remember, this is on the exterior, it had pressure treated wood, which shrinks and causes gaps. Anyway, he handed me a paring knife and a pecan pick and said that as soon as I cleaned all of the grit from between the boards I could get paid. So, I took the pick, the knife, and a shop-vac and started cleaning. This was a Thursday and payroll was Friday, so I had to stay until about 10:00 p.m. cleaning this porch so I could get paid.
I will never forget this, and learned a lesson that I will never repeat. The point of this story: It takes a lot less time to cover and protect than it does to cleanup. So take the time and prepare.
Like many business owners, I began with the intention and focus of being my own boss and making more money. After all, some say that is the “American Dream,” and, to a degree, it can be. Simply from my upbringing, I knew that in order to be successful, hard work would be the key component. After all, hard work is very uncommon in today’s America. For me, keeping a heavy workload has never been a huge issue. How to keep up with the workload was the biggest problem. So, as I needed help, I would simply hire the next warm body to “help” me get more work accomplished. However, what almost always happened was I would spend extra time and money correcting their mistakes. Although the final product would be acceptable, it would come with a decreased profit and an increased stress load. Then the cycle begins, sort of like debt. It starts off as a small problem or a temporary state that I would address and “fix” as soon as I got a chance. But, with an increasing workload and a decreasing profit, I could not afford to take the necessary time to correct the negative path I was on. After a while, that miserable condition I had put myself in sort of became a way of life. Sort of like an old worn out boot: it hurts to wear and will cause long-term damage, but you keep wearing it because it somehow seems like a part of you. That said, things are now going great and I’m proud of my team.
Have you gotten stuck in a cycle at work or with any other part of life, and, although you know it’s destructive, you just keep pressing on?
Saturday afternoon we received an emergency service water damage call. The customer stated that his family had been gone for several hours and, upon their return, had found water to be in the majority of their home. Three bedrooms, the dining room, living room and bathroom all had standing water. The source was an improperly functioning toilet valve. [See: Where is the Shut-Off Valve?] Unfortunately, our customer had an abrupt change of plans, but fortunately, he did not have to spend the rest of his evening extracting water from his home. Instead, he knew just what to do: he called us. We had actually performed a near mirror image water damage repair job for this same customer about 4 years prior.
Upon arrival, he had already stopped the water flow and begun vacuuming some of the surface water. We began our typical, strategic attack to efficiently and quickly remove the water from the structure. There were five of our staff, and we divided into three crews. One crew moved furniture and clothes, the other pulled out all of the severely damaged carpet pad and laminate wood flooring, and our fifth man focused on extracting the water.
Once all water and damaged materials were removed, we collectively set up the fans and dehumidifiers. We reset some of the major furniture and the TV so that our customer could at least have a place to sit and maintain a sense of normalcy.
This is a very typical water damage situation that we face time and time again. Many times, something as small as a toilet valve can create havoc. I wish I could give advice or create a maintenance plan to keep these things from occurring. For some things, I can, but for others, accidents happen. When they do, all you can do is be prepared. If this havoc were to happen to you, would you know what to do?
I am grateful that this customer chose to call us again. I am also extremely grateful that my team performed with such quality and customer service.
Whether it’s water damage or a related issue, Call Branch Emergency Services and we will take care of everything with excellence. We strive to leave you and your home better than we found it!
Branch Contractors, Inc. is a 24-hour emergency repair services company, and fast, after-hour storm repairs are just what our greater-Athens GA customers need. Just last week we were called around 8:30 pm to make storm damage repairs caused by a fallen tree.
The tree was a dead pine that was blown onto the house from the strong gusts of wind during one of Georgia’s recent storms. We arrived quickly with four men. Within less than an hour, we had boarded up two windows and a door, patched the roof and cleaned up a lot of broken glass.
The work we did was relatively simple, but we tried to make the service exceptional. This customer has a little baby. Knowing this, we initiated our Child-Occupied Protocol (COP) which includes checking behind ourselves numerous times and vacuuming and mopping the floors. Not only did we vacuum the rugs, we took them outside and broom-beat them to ensure that we dislodged any small particles of glass that we missed with the vacuum.
Unfortunate things like storm damage are common to us, but not necessarily to the typical homeowner. Our Child-Occupied Protocol was easy for us to develop because many of us also have small children, so working conscientiously to protect them comes from our hearts. When we are working in your home, we make your family our priority and go above and beyond any typical repair company so that you and your family are kept safe.
You can trust that the Branch Team truly cares for its customers, and it shows by the way we handle every detail. This is what we call The Branch Difference, and we invite you to learn more about it.
If something as unfortunate as a tree falling onto your home were to occur, wouldn’t you want the peace of mind that someone who truly cares was in charge of putting things back together?
Many times, there can be soot damage without any structural fire damage. This can be caused from melted plastic or food left in a skillet that only burns the contents of the skillet. No matter the cause, the cleaning method for cleaning soot damage is for the most part the same.
At Branch, when it comes to cleaning soot damage our protocol is to first determine the extent of the soot particles. We do this by a simple “white glove” test. However, if we should have reason, such as a customer with super-sensitivity, we can perform air or air surface testing and perform a laboratory analysis to ensure that we locate even the finest of particles.
Cleaning soot damage begins with setting up containment by establishing negative pressure throughout the damaged area and sealing off all areas that are not damaged. This containment system stays in place throughout the project or until its existence is unnecessary.
The next step, depending upon the severity of the soot, is to detach all light fixtures and move all appliances, furniture and other belongings to a “clean area” so that proper and thorough cleaning can be achieved. We then vacuum, beginning with the ceilings, moving laterally. Next are the walls, and door and window casings. We repeat this method until we reach the floor.
For the finished surfaces in the structure, such as ceilings, walls, doors, etc, we begin “wipe down”. Dependent upon the degree of the soot or smoke, we will likely use a chemical sponge.
Depending upon the condition of the surfaces and components after, further steps may be necessary to get things back like they need to be. The need to paint, seal, and refinish or replace could still be necessary; this can be determined area by area and component by component.
Have you ever had soot in your house and made it worse by improper cleaning techniques? We hope this post helps. If you need more assistance, we invite you to learn more about our smoke restoration services.
What do you have attached to your roof? I performed an emergency roof repair recently that was a result of a satellite being bolted through the roof decking. Mounting a satellite dish to the roof is not only common but is almost a standard. It always seems to be the best place to get a direct signal without objects in the way. Anytime this can be avoided, I would suggest that you do so. However, I, too, have mine attached to the roof, and thought I’d share how to install yours to prevent needing an emergency roof repair down the line. I also took a few snapshots (below) so you can see the damage an improper satellite dish installation can cause to your roof.
The problem is that when the dish or other object is originally mounted, there is typically no leak. As time passes, however, and the roof expands and contracts with the seasons, the hole that is created by the mounting bolts also expands and contracts. The result is the loosening of the bolts and then a following leak, necessitating the roof repair. This is easily avoidable. Once the location of the placement is decided, mark the holes, tap a lag bolt through the shingles, and then thread it through the plywood decking.
Then, back the bolts back out and fill the hole with pure roofing tar (not silicone) and heavily coat the lag bolt with the roof tar as well. I then recommend installing a “slip sheet:” a rubberized waterproofing membrane. Even a piece of old rubber inner tube can work. Slip this piece between the shingle and the base of the item being mounted. This provides a resilient pad that will conform to the mounting base instead of the rigid base provided by the shingle. Once the bolts are tightened, simply apply a coat of tar over the tops of the bolts as well. Using galvanized bolts will prevent any gaps created by rust.
If the roof decking is an OSB material and the bottom side is accessible from the attic, I suggest adding a piece of wood, such as a 2×4, or whichever size is adequate to provide a stronger base for the bolts to grab in to. Below are some pictures I took to illustrate how a satellite dish can cause an emergency roof repair.
No one wants to think about a fire occurring, especially at home. However, the fact is sometimes they do, and fire preparation is extremely important. Are you prepared if it were to happen to you? Where do you keep your fire extinguisher(s), and have you ever used one? Is the handling of it second nature? Because figuring it out during panic mode is not the best way to ensure that your skills are solid.
For me, I like to be prepared. I keep a fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink, in the bathroom, in the hall closet, and one in my bedroom. Why so many? Because fires don’t usually occur when you are carrying an extinguisher with you, but rather when you are sleeping, cooking, or otherwise distracted. Why the bedroom? Because you need to be able to fight your way out, or even to a child’s bedroom. You don’t want a fire between you and a child with the extinguisher on the other side of the fire.
As the cold, bitter winter steadily approaches, so does the need to carry out a few housekeeping or house-protecting preparations. Throughout this winter season, we will blog “thoughts to ponder” and “winter readiness tips” you can perform so that you are in a better position to prevent a problem should the cold weather result in damages to your home.
Let’s start small, but important … Let’s say that your water line should freeze, burst, and send water pouring over your floor. Perhaps something less dramatic, such as a simple leaking water heater, should occur. What would you do to keep things from getting worse? I know that everyone is saying the first thing to do is call Branch, and although I appreciate that, there are many things that you can do to lessen the damage until we arrive. One of those steps being: STOP THE WATER. As simple as that may seem, many people have no idea where the shut-off valve for their home or office is located. If you do, when was the last time you actually tested it to make sure it was not seized or fragile, or about to break? If it is at the water meter, do you have a tool to turn the valve? This is serious business! Countless times we arrive on the scene of a water damage call, and the water is steadily flowing because the tenant or owner had no idea how to simply turn off the water. Suddenly, that small job just turned into a major project.
Consider this: If you are not sure where to start or would like a more accessible and easier valve option, call us and we can assist you.
Are you ready at a moment’s notice to turn the water off?
Many homes include fireplaces, but not all were installed for the same purpose. Many people may assume that a fireplace is a fireplace, but that is not so. Years ago, fireplaces were installed for the purpose of heating the home. They were in the bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, and most all of the “gathering” areas of the home. They were constructed with the intention to withstand hot, winter-long fires. Today, although some fireplaces are built with the same intentions of old, most are not. Now they are primarily for “visual effect” or “ambiance” with their intention being for short-term, low-heat fires.
There are many types of fireplaces; electric, gas, wood, and other alternate fuel sources. When a fireplace is used within its constructed intent, things should be fine. It’s when they are called to serve an unintended purpose that things can go wrong.
For instance, a fireplace that was built for gas that has been modified by the DIY’er to use real wood is a problem waiting to happen. The heat created by wood will far exceed the temperature that the firebox and flue were made for. Also, gas fireplaces typically are not constructed with the same “drawing” aspect that is needed to properly evacuate the smoke, thus resulting in a smoked-filled room.
So, before you attempt a do-it-yourself conversion of your own fireplace or use it for anything other than the manufacturer’s written intentions, beware! You may end up with a larger, hotter fire than you were looking for.
What do you use your fireplace for? Will it withstand the test?
Lately, we have had some exceptionally constant winds with strong gusts but no rain. Time for a roof inspection. Although we could really use the rain right now, while your shingles are being peeled off by the wind is typically not the most desirable time for the drops to fall. The past few days may not have been considered a storm, but it could have set you up for a mess later. Take a few minutes to walk around your house and look for any missing shingles, or any that may be pulled loose or look to be raised up. Also, take a look in the yard for any shingles that may have fallen to the ground. I know many of you are extremely busy and may rarely even see your house in the daylight, but, believe me; a quick roof inspection is worth the time it will take. It is better to make sure now than to let the rain storm show you different later.
When was the last time you performed a quick roof inspection, or actually walked around the perimeter of your home, for that matter?