What Contractors Want You to Know About Your House
There is more to your home’s exterior than curb appeal. Your homes exterior is its shield from the elements, keeping you safe from the weather and protecting your home’s core from factors that can contribute to structural damage.
From your foundation to your roof, all the parts of your home work together to maintain its structural integrity. Windows, doors, and even your siding all have a role in keeping your home strong, dry and resilient. They also all have one other thing in common: they can do the most damage if not maintained. Let’s look at a few of the most important areas that should be kept up.
Your Home’s Roof
If your roof is old or has visual defects, I would strongly suggest having a professional come out and asses it for you. A leaking roof is a huge problem, especially if you do not realize it until it is draining into your house.
Don’t wait until you see water coming through your walls or ceiling to have your roof inspected, as there can be substantial damage already from previous rains that did not make it all the way through your home.
The wood and insulation above any wet spots that might appear would have been saturated long before the water ever leaked through your walls or ceiling. Chances are, that area would have been soaked repeatedly before it ever seeped through. Wet wood and insulation will, over time, lead to rot, mold, and wood decay.
Proper drainage around your home’s foundation is more important than you might think. Although a little puddle might seem like no match for your home, you would be surprised at the amount of damage consistent standing water can do over time.
· Water can seep into small cracks in the cement leading to flooded basements and crawl spaces.
· Expanding soil can lead to pressure against walls causing them to crack or bow.
· Overly saturated soil allows erosion of the dirt under your home, leading to sinking, uneven floors and cracks in walls and doorways.
Checking for drainage issues:
It’s relatively easy to asses if you have proper drainage yourself. The slope around your house should drop at least 6-10 inches over a distance of ten feet and divert the water safely from your house, preferably directing water to a drainage area. There are some very simple ways to check your slope that can be easily found with a web search; many do not require more than a yard stick, some string and a level.
Patios and garden areas against the home should also slope away from your home. Check for puddling after heavy rain and inspect basements for signs of water seepage. Don’t forget about your gutter downspouts. They should also be directing water away from your home. Allowing water to build up in this area can cause serious damage to your home’s foundation. Eroding soil will cause uneven settling leading to structural damage.
If you find signs that you might have a problem, you will want to bring in a professional to determine the best course of action. There are several ways to fix drainage issues around your home. Regrading would be necessary to gain a proper slope, and some sort of drainage system should be used for problem areas.
Installing a French drain or digging a drainage trench will help direct water flow away from your house. This is especially useful if your yard has a lot of surface run off when it rains.
Windows and Doors
Windows and doors that no longer open and close the way they should will not only let in rain and wind but could also be a sign of structural damage. If you notice gaps forming along windows and doorways, or if they stick or become hard to move, this could be a sign of uneven settling and should be inspected by a professional.
Water coming through leaking window edges will quickly become a problem. Water can become easily trapped in the walls surrounding the area, causing damage. If the water appears to be colored or there are brown stains where the water seeps, then you most likely already have water building up in your walls. Mold and rot are sure to set in if not treated right away.
Dry and cracked caulking along the windowsill will also allow water to make its way in. Removing the old caulk and replacing it is a pretty simple DIY project you should put on your to do list.
Whether you have an older wood siding that has areas of rot or just cracks or gaps forming in your vinyl siding, you might want to look into having it repaired or replaced. Damaged siding has the potential to let in water and pests.
Your homes siding can fall victim to solar and wind weathering, warping, shifting and poor ageing. Having your homes siding upgraded to a more durable, weather resistant material will ensure protection for years to come.
Some things to consider when choosing the material that will be used when having your home re-sided:
· If you prefer wood, engineered wood is better at moisture control than natural wood.
· Vinyl siding is both durable and easily installed compared to some other options. It is resistant to mold and rot and can come in many different styles and colors. Vinyl siding can be made to look like many different materials, but due to its thinness, may not pull off some looks as well as other options.
· If you are looking for more of a natural look with the same protection as vinyl, Fiber Cement siding is another option. Fiber cement is both water and termite resistant and is a more heavy-duty alternative to vinyl. Because of its thickness, it can mimic a wood or stone look much better than vinyl, giving you a much more aesthetically pleasing look.
I hope you will take the time to give your home an exterior check-up. Identifying potential problems early on will make them cheaper and easier to fix, and you will be ensuring the safety and longevity of your home.