Is Your Roof Ready for Old Man Winter

is your roof ready for winter and snowWinter in the upper Midwest can be brutal. Winter storms are common and snow fall totals are often measured in feet rather than inches. With snow, ice, wind, and freezing rain in spontaneous increments, your roof takes a beating.

Think about it. Your roof must endure heavy snow drifts. Your shingles have to defend against laterally blowing rain and sleet, fighting its way into every space. Your gutters and downspouts have to fight off a cycle of freezing and melting precipitation. One day’s snow on your roof is the next day’s melting and then refreezing ice. When that freezes, you get icicles. Kids think they are cool, but your roof and gutters don’t!

Rough winter conditions year after year make it crucial that you inspect your roof and make sure it’s ready for old man winter! Missing or curled shingles indicate there’s been some level of stress to your roof and you need to access the level of repairs needed.

Fall is the perfect time to schedule a re-roofing project, which can typically be completed in less than a week, depending on the size of your home/roof. If it is time to re-roof, consider a permanent option like our stone coated steel roof. This popular option utilizes stone coated steel shingles that consist of a heavy-duty Galvalume steel base that essentially transforms your roof into a maintenance free one.

If you have an older roof or haven’t been up on your roof in a while, now is the time. If you are not comfortable climbing on your roof or unsure what to look for, give us a call.


Preparing Windows for Cold Weather

Inspect, prepare, repair or replace windowsFall is a great time to get house projects done and make sure your home is ready to endure the winter ahead. Weather proofing your windows and making sure they aren’t drafty is something you should address every fall. If you have older windows, it’s possible that a window that was fine last season is now presenting some issues. You want to catch this early and remedy before your heat goes out the window!

Not only does proper window maintenance save money, but well maintained windows keep the elements out and your home in top condition. For heat efficiency purposes, it’s important to start your window weatherproofing on the inside. However, external maintenance is also important to prevent water seepage, mold, wood and insulation damage and more.

Inside Your Window

Window treatments: While not part of your window, window treatments are an important way to increase heat efficiency in your home and help your windows keep cold air out. Window treatments like blinds and drapes can help keep your room warm on windy days, but remember to open them on sunny days to take advantage of the free heat from the sun!

Inspect for repairs and replacements: Inspect your window for needed repairs. If you feel one or more windows need to be replaced, this is the time to get that scheduled. We can help you find a window that will match or closely resemble existing windows, as well as fit into the existing space. If you want a different style of window, a larger window, or to upgrade to a high efficiency type window like THV, this would be the best time to get it installed. If you are going to replace a window, consider your options and do that now.

Energy audit: An energy audit is a valuable resource for helping you decide what home improvements you can make to improve your energy efficiencies. For older homes or in cases where you suspect you’re home has some issues, this can really save you money now and throughout the future when you’re able to fix or replace items. In many cases, the remedies are quite simple and inexpensive. For larger expense items, an energy audit prepares you for repairs or appliance replacements and gives you time to set money aside.

Caulk: Caulk and weather stripping is a great idea for drafty windows, especially windows in older homes. You want to keep the elements outside, as well as unwanted pests and cold drafts. When replacing a window isn’t an option for you, make sure you seal any cracks around the window, wall, and sill.

Outside Your Window

Inspect repairs and replacements: Inspect your windows from the outside as well. A window that looks fine on the inside may have issues on the outside. Check for cracked glass, rotting wood, broken mechanisms, loose shudders and awnings. If you are unsure how to proceed with a repair, give us a call.

Weather stripping/caulk: Make sure your windows are sealed well from the outside, as well as the inside.

Trim Branches: If there are overgrown scrubs and tree branches close to or touching your windows, roof, or siding, it’s time to trim them back. Once we get snow , wind, and freezing rain, heavy ice laden branches can cause significant damage to your roof, gutters, windows, and more.

Screens off: If you have the kind of windows that utilize screens in the summer that need to be stored for the winter, now is the time to remove them. If you have storm windows and doors to replace the screens, get them on while the weather is nice.

If you have any questions about repairs or replacement windows, please give us a call.


Maintaining Your Deck

maintaining your deckIs your deck looking weathered and faded?

If your wood deck is peeling, discolored in places, warping, or splitting, chances are your deck is in need of some maintenance. Wood is still a popular choice in deck building materials, but it requires regular maintenance to make sure the wood stays in top condition.

Typically, you will have a choice of two wood products. A chemically treated product (known throughout the industry as green treated) or a natural product (cedar or redwood). Either product will need maintenance to keep your investment looking good. Furthermore, keep in mind that both products will dry out and will need re-staining and re-sealing. It is best to get into a habit of maintaining your deck so you can enjoy it for years to come.

How often do you need to stain and seal your deck?

Each deck is different, and how often you need to restain your deck depends on a number of factors including the type of stain you use, the finish you used the previous time, heavy usage, and exposure to extreme elements. Some stains are more transparent than others, and the more transparent of stain you choose, the faster it tends to wear off. Typically, you can expect to stain your deck every one to five years.

Each time you stain and seal your deck is the perfect time to go through a deck safety and inspection checklist.

  • Split, jagged, or broken boards.
  • Mildew on wood, rust on metal components
  • Loose railings
  • Screws/nails no longer sunk in or flush with boards
  • Check risers and stringers of stairs for decay or instability
  • Attachment to home; any sign of pulling away is an emergency!

If you have questions about the safety of your deck or items that may need repair, contact us at once.


Plugged Gutters Can Lead to Water Damage

leaves and debris in guttersWhen is the last time you climbed up and cleaned out your gutters and downspouts? Some people are diligent about this task, making it part of their spring and fall cleaning list. Other people wouldn’t dream of climbing up on a ladder and digging in organic, wet sludge in the name of a “clean gutter”. Most of us fall somewhere in between with the best intentions and lack of time. However, plugged gutters can lead to water build up on roofs and into ceilings. Debris that traps water next to the roof right before it freezes is essentially an invited ice dam. Who needs these headaches?

Make a point to clean out your gutters and down spouts on a regular basis. Have a partner with you (or make a “honey-do” list) to help hold the ladder and keep you safe. Use rubber gloves to get a hold of debris. Use a garden hose to flush any remaining matter out of your drain spouts. Make plans to do this every fall after leaves have fallen and after each subsequent wind/rain storm.

If cleaning your gutters and downspouts is something you don’t want to do, you may be interested in a Gutter Glove. It’s a solution that guards your gutters against clogs.

Sump Pump Overdrive

With a very wet spring, sump pumps everywhere are working overtime. When installed and working properly, the sump pump can save homeowners thousands of dollars in water damage.

sump pump battery back upA sump pump automatically kicks on when it is needed, pumps water out and away from the house, and then shuts itself off again until it’s needed again. However, the storms that often cause extreme rainfalls also cause power outages. Without power, your sump pump can’t work. Water builds up and then floods into the lowest level of your home.

There’s a solution that all homeowners should consider; a battery back-up for the sump pump. This investment gives your sump pump a back-up power supply if the electricity goes out, and extends your ability to stay ahead of water damage. A battery back-up also gives you the peace of mind when you leave for vacation or aren’t able to run home during a storm to check on things.

There is a wide variety of battery back up choices for sump pumps that range in price from a couple hundred dollars to several hundred dollars. You will need to shop for the kind that best meets your needs. However, this is an investment. The money and headaches a back up power supply can provide often outweigh the initial cost.


Larson Builders