Keep the Water Out
Today’s houses are built with a variety of materials. Vinyl siding won’t rot when exposed to water but many parts of a house are made from natural materials like wood. Wood becomes a food source for mold growth when the moisture level gets too high.
Our homes are designed to direct water down and away from your home. Roof shingles overlap to keep water flowing down but when they age (crack, curl, etc) water can get under the shingles and the plywood sheathing can rot.
Inspect and Repair Potential Water Leaks
You will save time and money if you periodically inspect your home for potential water damage. Of course you also need to make needed repairs quickly. Here are several different approaches to monitoring the water tightness of your home:
- Use a pair of binoculars to visually inspect your home every year – fall, spring or both. More frequent reviews will help you recognize changes that indicate potential problems. You’re looking for missing/deteriorating roof shingles and gaps/cracks around the chimney or roof vents. On each side of your home, check wood trim right below the roof line for discoloration (water stains or mold), wood siding and trim (windows, corner boards, etc) for cracked/peeling paint or gaps form aging caulk, and focus on window sills which are a common problem.
- Pick one aspect of your home to inspect more thoroughly. Learn which side of your house gets more exposure to the elements (sun, wind, rain and moisture) and has more repair needs, and check this side twice as often as the other 3 sides. If you’re on a 6 year paint schedule, consider painting this one side every 3 years.
- Check your roof – shingles, chimney and vent pipes, ventilation (inflow & outflow) plus gutters and wood trim immediately below the roof on all sides.
- Check windows and doors focusing on the bottom where water tends to collect, i.e., window sills and door thresholds and gaps/cracks in caulk used to seal seams around the windows.
- Check siding and associated trim like corner boards.
- Check foundation to make sure water is directed away from your home’s foundation. This is critical with new homes (or remodeling) where dirt is filled back after excavation, and settles over a few years. Shrubs should also be trimmed.
Learn to test for squishy or punky wood. Press gently with your finger and you’ll quickly learn to recognize the difference between solid wood and wood that is soft with hidden damage. You can then use a thin, pointed object (needle, paper clip, etc) to see how deep the damage goes but do it carefully to prevent the wood from disintegrating in front of your eyes!
Hopefully this list has given you ideas for how to break down the work into bite size chunks you can complete every 3 to 4 years.Your goal should be to find and correct problems quickly, which will save you money!
Keep Warm (or Cool) Air Inside
People are more aware of energy costs since gas prices have risen since 2007. Europeans have paid higher fuel costs for years, so the US government looked there when setting new energy standards. US manufacturers had to retool to meet the standards by June 1, 2009.
Most of the energy improvements in cars, appliances and building codes are driven by government regulations. We’ll try to update you frequently and you’ll want to research future purchases to benefit in new exterior products like siding, windows and doors to internal systems including heating, electrical/lighting and plumbing, i.e. there are new hot water heaters coming.
Inspect and Seal or Insulate: Don’t Lose heat out Your Window
Now lets break down home maintenance “energy saving” projects into bite size chunks, ones that won’t overwhelm you. Our goal is to help every home owner reduce their energy consumption … to save money, to improve the value of their home and to help the environment.
First you want to seal air leaks that allow cold (or warm) air to get into your home. Here are the most common areas for savings, and it’s okay to do one each year:
- Windows and doors should be caulked outside,and insulated between the window and the rough framing, to reduce unwanted air flow. Caulk can deteriorate over time and often, little or no insulation surrounds windows and doors.
- Single pane windows should be replaced with energy efficient, double pane windows. If you can’t afford to do the entire house, pick 2 or 3 rooms where you spend the most time.
- Weatherstripping around doors, typically rubber, will become less effective over time and should be replaced to block small cracks.
- Where the wood framing of the house meets the foundation is prone to air leaks. Ideally you can insulate and seal these areas from the basement.
- Next you want to insulate to reduce warn air from escaping, i.e. you’ve paid to heat the air and want to gain as much benefit as you can.
- With warm air rising, the first place to improve insulation is the floor of your attic, to keep warm air in your living spaces.
- Outside walls are more challenging. The most practical time to add insulation is when you’re replacing the siding. We’ve helped customers with creative solutions like a second wall in upstairs bedrooms as opening up and insulating 2×4 walls won’t achieve today’s standards which assume 2×6 framing.
- Insulate (and seal) systems that carry warm air (ductwork) or water (exposed heating and hot water pipes) and put an insulating blanket on your hot water heater.