Home Exterior Maintenance
WHAT TO LOOK FOR AFTER THE WINTER THAWWinter is tough on home exteriors. Taking the time to examine the, often over-looked, exterior of your home can save you money and a head-aches down the road.
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Spend a little time gazing up. Most of us don't pay attention to one of the most vital aspects of home until it's too late. Knowing the signs of a damaged or aging roof is the first step to nipping a potential leak in the bud, or realizing the inevitable is coming and budgeting for future repairs. You can make most of the general inspections without a ladder, but for a more thorough inspection a ladder at the roofs edge is recommended. Here are some things to look for:
Inspect the shape the shingles are in. Signs of aging include: curling shingles, broken/missing shingles, and excessive granule loss. Shingles, like our skin, become dry and brittle as the natural oils are baked out by the sun and run off from rain and snow. Check the ground where your downspouts expel water from roof run-off. If you find a lot of granules there on the ground, your roof is most likely near the end of its serviceable life and a roof replacement ought to be considered or at least budgeted for.
Algae growth. Most shingles since the early 2000’s have a resistance to algae growth because the granules have been coated with zinc and copper. When these metals oxidize they inhibit plant growth on the shingle. If you live in a heavily shaded area, a simple way to know the approximate age of your shingles is to check for algae growth. The algae resistance warranty in most shingles 10yrs. If you see no signs of growth, your shingles are most likely in the 10-15yr range. Some small algae growth would indicate you are beyond the 15yr range, and significant algae growth would indicate the shingles are in the 20yr plus range. Despite the warranty given by most shingle manufacture’s, the actual life span of most common asphalt shingles range between 25-35yrs depending on the pitch of the roof.
Chimney and chimney flashing. Most all leaks that occur aren’t from the shingles themselves. Rather, they are from junctures where the shingles meet a roof penetration. All these junctures require some sort of flashing (metal flashing are the most preferable). The most common leak of all occurs at the chimney and is usually the metal at the base of the chimney called the chimney flashing.
- Check to see if the flashing is made out metal.
- Look for black tar at the base of your chimney. Tar is a temporary fix usually lasting up to a year, so chances are you may need to replace the flashing is tar is present.
- Look for metal, check to see if the metal is rusting or in need of paint.
- Check the caulking to see if it’s pulling or eroding away.
- Check the mortar in between the bricks for cracks or to see if the joints are loose.
- Check the concrete cap of your chimney for cracks.
All of the above, if not maintained properly can cause leaks.
The type of siding you have will determine what you should look for:
Wood siding and trim. Take a screw driver with you for this exercise. Check the paint for cracking and peeling on all the wood surfaces of the exterior of your home. Lightly prod the bottom corners of your windows with your screw driver to see if the wood has become soft. Catching wood rot in the early stages can save you from eventual structural damage and interior water damage. Once again, look up at the gutters, rather the trim piece the gutter rests on, called the fascia, and the soffit, which is the piece of trim on the underside of the gutter. If you notice paint missing or wood damage on these areas, it could indicate a larger root problem with the either the gutter, or worse, the roof. You should call your local professional to take a look to determine what the cause is. Typically the south side of any house is in the worst shape due to longer sun exposure times. The south side of the house is a good place to start on your quest for signs of rotting wood.
Brick siding. The main idea here is to check the mortar between the bricks. Look for loose mortar joints in problem areas such as the corners of windows and the corners of the house. Check for step cracking, which can indicate larger problems such as settling or buckling. You should call your local professional to take a look to determine what the cause is.
Inspect your gutters regularly. Keeping not only your gutters as well as the downspouts, clear and free of debris will help prevent leaking gutters, rain water overflow and ice damming to name a few. Problems caused by clogged gutters can lead to future damage to your roof, wood trim, gutters and even in the interior of your home. Clean your gutters or invest in a good leaf guard. However, we recommend that you check your gutters regularly even with a leaf guard, just to be safe.
Spring is a good time to consider new windows. The winter weather will often show signs that it's time to change out your windows. Check for frost or condensation. A general rule of thumb is the more frost or condensation you have on your windows, the more inefficient your window is. Also, check the bottom corners of your windows. Leaky windows will show water damage or staining in these areas. Wet your hand and put it close to the perimeter of the window to feel for drafts. It's easier to tell on a windy day. If you feel a draft, check the interior and exterior caulking of the window. A lot of times the caulking is missing or loose.
Request a FREE estimate today!
If you've noticed wear and tear on your house after the harsh winter weather, get in touch today to request a free estimate. Our team at JM Remodeling & Construction is here to help keep your home looking and functioning its best!