Where did that moisture come from?

WindowCondensationEver wonder why moisture (condensation) forms on your windows? Or, even better, what you can do to help prevent it?  Over the years, we have learned that typically this time of the year is the biggest culprit for condensation issues.  Below are some simple questions and answers that may help you, understand what is happening in your house.

I have moisture on the inside of my windows, what is this?
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Windshield Time

WindshieldHaving just returned back to Minnesota after a quick trip to Iowa to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family, I had the fortunate opportunity to invest in some quality “windshield time.”  This allocation of hours is spent concentrating on the operation of the truck, but yet mindlessly staring at the windshield of the vehicle as you traverse the Interstate system.  This time can be a gift or a curse whichever way you look at it.

This past trip blessed me with the occasion for reflection on my time in this industry.  The changes that have taken place since 1987 have been significant.  Technology has made it easier to construct/remodel an extremely efficient home.  Home automation continues to inspire and impress potential customers as well as contractors, and the evolution of hand tools that can assist our craftsmen in ways that many of us could never imagine.

However, the one thing that is still consistent is the work force.  In today’s technology driven, text savvy world, we still need the faithful, dedicated, caring employee that can transform a vacant lot into a home that nurtures all those that live there.  You might have all the logistics covered, but without the allegiance of a committed team absolutely nothing will transpire.

As we transition into the final weeks of 2013, my “windshield time” reminded me once again that the most important tool available to me in my tool box is the human element that everyone at the Larson Family of Companies brings to the equation that continues to make our organization the premier contractor in central Minnesota.  That caring touch is the difference, and the foundation, for countless customer relationships since 1967.

Fall Home and Yard Checklist

larson builders hutchinson mn fall home checklistHere is a list of things you want to make sure you do this fall, while the weather is warm to prepare your home, yard, and garage for the winter ahead.

Home

  • Change furnace filter, have ducts professionally cleaned, and schedule your fall furnace maintenance check-up.
  • Reverse ceiling fan blades to push warmer air down.
  • If applicable, install your storm windows.
  • Clean dryer vent, pellet stove vents, fireplace chimneys, and make sure exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom are working properly.
  • Change filters in humidifiers. Clean and store dehumidifiers.

Garage

  • Replenish sidewalk salt supply and re-discover the shovels
  • Properly dispose of household hazardous waste such as used oil, cleaners, solvents, and other items you no longer need.
  • Move items into the basement that should not freeze such as paint and caulk.

Yard

  • Detach garden hoses from your outside faucets before it freezes so you don’t break the faucet and deal with leaks.
  • Check your sump pump hose for leaks and make sure it’s attached securely.
  • Fertilize yard with slow release winter fertilizer
  • Mulch leaves and grass when possible.
  • Clean the debris out of your gutters and downspouts.
  • Trim branches growing close to power lines and call in the professionals if they are too close. Also trim branches close to your roof.
  • Put reflector stakes in the ground along your driveway or landscaping before the ground freezes.

If there is anything on your fall “to-do” list we can help with, give us a call!

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.

 

Extending Your Day on the Deck: Deck Lighting

Deck lighting is a welcome addition to enhance both the ambiance and the functionality of a deck. You’re not limited in deck lighting options to help you achieve the lighting effect for which you want to achieve, so take the time to think about what you want and need.

Landscape Lighting

Lighting on and around your deck enhances your landscaping and the presentation of your outdoor living space. Lighting provides a warm element that invites seeing your space in a whole new way. Lighting in landscaping can complement deck lighting for a consistent look and feel. Landscape lighting helps provide a lighted path from the gate, path through the yard, and onto the deck.

Deck Lighting

Deck lighting options are as vast as landscape lighting and can feature lighted walkways, stairs, railings, newel posts, and overhead lights. Trex, a popular decking product offers integrated lighting into the materials for a seamless and polished look. If you are just starting a deck building project or remodel project, lighting is something you want to consider ahead of time, so that your selection is easily and beautifully integrated into the final project. The option of using dimmers and timers , as well as solar lights allow you to achieve the lighting that best fits your lifestyle and deck use.

Safety needs

Sufficient lighting on decks adds an element of safety that is necessary for your deck to be an extension of your home. You wouldn’t dream of making guests navigate through your home without lights, so make sure you’re able to offer them the lighting they need to enjoy their time with you on your deck!

Gallery of Deck Lighting Ideas We Can Make Happen for You!

 

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.

 

Deck Building Trends and Amenities

trends in decksA there’s no doubt that a deck enhances the beauty and function of your home. Today, home owners find all kinds of uses for decks, making them an extension of the kitchen, dining room, living room and/or rec room. In our fast paced society, finding a quiet space to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors is important and a deck offers all of that.

Deck Trends

If building a relaxing deck space sounds appealing or you have ideas of enhancing your current deck to make it better fit your lifestyle, then some of the new deck trends may be something you want to explore. Recent innovations offer amenities such as maintenance free materials, lighting, shade, built in seating, and much more.

You don’t have to settle for a boring rectangular deck. Decks can be any shape and multiple levels. They can have water features such as fountains or contain built-in storage areas for cushions and gardening hoses. Many people are adding outdoor kitchens, heating, and view-through railing systems. A decision to build or remodel a deck should take into consideration the amount of time you plan to spend on the deck and how you want to use the space.

We’ve found many customers really love the maintenance free options available with the Trex decking system. A great resource for ideas is available at Trex.com, and we’ve incorporated many of these into recent projects. We invite you to take a look at some of the deck options available, and then give us a call to discuss your ideas. And of course, never begin a deck project without considering these factors.

What does your future deck look like?

 

Planning a Deck Project

building a deckSummer is the most popular time to start a deck building project, and each year people tackle this project in two different ways; DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and hiring it done. For DIY’ers who love to have a project to work on in spare time, it’s a great fit. For others, asking us to lend a hand is the preferred route. Either way you choose, there are some considerations you need to make ahead of time.

Considerations for Building a Deck

Shade: You may have an ideal place you’d like to put a deck or raised patio, but consider the direction it faces and your yard. Will your deck be in the hot sun during the heat of the afternoon? What time of day are you most likely to use your deck and is it shaded during that time? Are you able to plant trees or add a landscape elements to provide shade? Is a fire and/or a grill a part of your plan, and if so, you may need to adjust your deck/patio plans to accommodate where these things can be placed according to building and fire codes.

Access: Consider the access to your home, deck and yard. Where do you want to access the deck from your home? What makes most sense? Which way would you want your stairs to run? Will you block windows or other items in your yard with your deck and/or stairs?

Privacy: If you are standing in your backyard dreaming about the day your deck protrudes from the second story, think about privacy. Will you be visible to all your neighbors while sitting on the deck? Which direction will the deck face? How much privacy will you have? Will the deck be above your fence? Do you need to add in a privacy element to the deck and/or landscaping?

Structure: Are you planning to put a spa on your deck? If so, your deck plans need to account for that weight and placement, and it should be something you decide before hand, not after the deck is built.

Building Permit/Building Code: Obtaining a building permit is a critical first step, as you don’t want to invest in a project that doesn’t have prior permission from the city. Secondly, if this is DIY project, make sure that all aspects meet current building codes. (Each year we are reminded of the terrible consequences when construction is done below code standards. A deck collapse can be a very dangerous event.)

Digging: Before digging post holes, uprooting trees, and other preliminary tasks that require digging, you need to call Gopher State One Call and make sure all local utilities are clearly marked. While they are usually fairly quick with requests, it can take a few days, so plan ahead!

If time is slipping away from you this summer or any of the questions raised above have you stumped, give us a call and let us help you build a deck. We can make the process simple and fun!

 

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.

Larson Builders