News

Burke Emergency Restoration, Burke ER, offers tips on preventing frozen pipes

Friday, January 31, 2014

Story and photos by LORETTA JACKSON

Staff Writer

Bedford’s John and Cristine Burke know about frozen pipes.

They are the owners of Burke Emergency Restoration – a business located in Manchester. The owners of Burke ER and some 20 employees focus every day on bringing damaged properties back to life.

The specialties at the company, which was founded in 2005, are water removal from floods, frozen pipes and other sources, mold remediation, fire mitigation and the cleanup of biohazard contamination.

These days, calls about frozen water pipes are the most common. The company receives calls day and night about pipes that have ruptured and spewed water all over a home, store, apartment building, commercial site or anywhere that water service can turn into a water nightmare.

John Burke was formerly the vice president of Ferrous Operations at Hitchiner Manufacturing in Milford and general manager of the Sturm Ruger Unicast plant in Londonderry. A master’s degree in metallurgy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s in chemistry from Boston College backgrounded his yearning for a business of his own that was timely, helpful to people and diverse in its scope. He holds 19 U.S. patents. The couple met in college at Boston College.

“We never know what will come around the corner in this business,” John said. “Every day is different. You’re helping people but it’s challenging. Snow on the roofs, ice dams, frozen pipes, flooding – nobody plans on a disaster.”

Cristine Burke, a Boston College grad, is the force behind the development of relationships with representatives of insurance companies, adjusters, property management firms and real estate companies. She formerly was a senior marketing communications director at Newforma, a Manchester software firm. In addition, she served as marketing director for Telequip, a manufacturing company in Salem.

Cristine’s copy writing expertise, marketing savvy and the ability to empathize with people who are faced with devastating property losses have made her one associates think of when faced with such a loss. Dozens of written commendations on the efforts of their staff from homeowners and others have been received with pride by the couple. She has compassion for people with problems.

“We’re getting so many calls for frozen pipes,” Cristine Burke said. “People who have gone to Florida come home to find their basement under water. We see countless homes where they come back from a wonderful vacation – and then it’s no fun.”

They shared some background on the reason pipes burst. They said that when liquid water freezes, it becomes less dense. Ice cubes float for that reason. The water expands when it freezes. The expansion creates a pressure force that when confined inside the plumbing system will rupture even strong pipes.

John Burke noted frozen plumbing oftentimes does no leak as it ruptures because the water is frozen. The flood happens when the ice melts enough to allow a flow. He recommends opening the doors of closets and cabinets where plumbing is installed so that the spaces can share heat that is present elsewhere in the home. Another tip is to leave water running very slowly so that the trickle can help pipes remain open. A small fan is helpful to circulate warm air to cold parts of a house.

“We have surge events, times when lots of the same problem happens,” John said. “When we get the call, we go. We want to get there quickly. We want to bring the property back to normal.”

Cristine gives kudos to the company’s team, a crew that handles cases throughout south central New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts. The team has skillfully restored properties endangered by water, fire, mold and biohazards – for example, accident and crime scene cleanups.

Burke Emergency Restoration has renewed individual homes, restaurants, a local school with a flooding problem and many other sites. It’s largest challenge to date was restoration of the Brooks House, a 50-unit apartment building in Vermont that also housed some businesses before fire struck. The structure was drenched to quell the blaze, a fire declared electrical in origin.

“We gutted the entire building and dried out 50 apartments and 14 businesses,” John Burke said. “We had people there for a month.”

The array of equipment used in the couple’s business of restoring a damaged property is impressive. John and Cristine displayed a spacious bay where their tools are maintained. Several Burke ER trucks was at the ready outside the office building, located at 850 E. Industrial Park Drive. Others were elsewhere, on various jobs.

The tools include large industrial-sized fans, high-powered vacuums, equipment for physically cleaning and deodorizing carpets, carpet pads and household contents. Dehumidifiers, mats, generators, carpet cleaning machines abound.

The building houses a glass-walled chamber where smoke smells and pet odors disappear through the application of various chemicals.

Their son, Matthew Burke, is the firm’s program manager and is the IT wizard, accounting guru and estimating professional.

They commended Brandon King, operations manager, for overseeing with an eye for detail all residential and commercial projects.

They said Office Manager Addie Lecza is the one people talk to first when they call about damaged treasures – whether wedding photos or company documents.

Lecza has a tender touch, even on the telephone. Others, too, support the Burkes’ dedication to customer service.

“We’re not a cleaning company or a janitorial company,” Cristine Burke said. “We’re in the business of bringing property back to life – bringing the property back to normalcy.”

For more information on preventing frozen pipes, see the company’s online newsletter, The Beat.

For more details about Burke Emergency Restoration or to report property damage at a home or a business, visit the company online at www.burke
restoration.com
.

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