Seems funny to apply the word “rogue” to humidity. But during midwest winters it fits. Here’s why:
Every winter is bound to have a couple days to a couple weeks of below zero weather. When temperatures start to rise, homeowners start to notice brown spots on their ceiling that resemble roof leaks. This could be a sign of a roof leak it could also be a sign that your home’s humidity was too high during the cold temperatures causing frozen attic condensation.
Many homes have humidifiers on their furnaces. Almost all new homes have this or homes with real wood floors. It’s a great thing to have but homeowners need to be mindful of appropriate humidity levels. If the humidity is set higher than it should be during negative temperatures, the moisture rises up to the attic and before it can escape, it hits the bottom of the snow covered roof and freezes. Sometimes icicles even form off the nails! Once the weather warms up and one of the first things to thaw is attic condensation. Depending on high the humidity has been set on your house, this can be a decent amount of moisture coming down – thus causing brown spots on ceilings. It looks identical to spots from roof leaks.
Tea staining or brown spots can form on your ceiling as frozen attic condensation melts during winter months.
What is the appropriate level of humidity for your home?
If the outside weather is…
20 to 40 degrees, humidity should be less than 40%
10 to 20 degrees, humidity should be less than 35%
0 to 10 degrees, humidity should be less than 30%
-10 to 0 degrees, humidity should be less than 25%
-20 to -10 degrees, humidity should be less than 20%
below -20 degrees, humidity should be less than 15%
This will prevent attic condensation, mold, or any other issues caused by overly humid and warm air.
What about you?
These guidelines are the optimal levels to make your home comfortable, but what about the people living in it? Dryer air is not always the best for us to live in but there are ways to keep both you happy and your home comfortable. Instead of using whole house humidifiers use individual ones when you are using the room. Use programmable timers to turn on and off humidifiers. Buy indoor humidity sensors – these range from $5-$50. Click here to see the “indoor hygrometers” on Amazon.com
It’s so easy to forget to monitor or change your humidity. Many people don’t even realize this is what’s going on until it’s too late – brown spots appear! If this happens to you, don’t panic but it’s still good practice to have a trusted roofer inspect to confirm no roof leaks.
As the snow and ice melt off your roof, it’s a good time to see if your roof sustained any stress or damage from the winter.
Brown Spotting or Tea Staining on your ceiling. This is the easiest way for you to catch a small leak early. The spot might not drip or be wet to the touch but it’s a sign of a leak and will be worth having check out. If you know the leak has been fixed and want to get rid of the stain, use a stain-blocking primer like Kilz or Bullseye first then use your regular ceiling paint. Without the stain blocker primer the brown spot will come through the ceiling paint, even if the leak has been fixed.
Missing Shingles. If you can see your roof in it’s entirety you will still know if you are missing shingles by finding pieces in your yard. Shingles lose adhesive strength as it ages. Drastic temperature changes are hard on the shingle bonding strip. After this is weakened, wind easily blows off your shingles leaving you exposed.
Curled or Cracked shingles. Over time asphalt shingles dry out and become brittle and fragile. Frail shingles are no defense against environmental dangers (like hail) and need attention sooner rather than later. It’s easier to see curled shingles from the ground – the edges are often described as looking like a potato chip. Cracked shingles may only be visible while standing on the roof.
Old shingles can curl up
Brittle shingles crack easier
Cracked or Damaged Pipe Flashing. Pipe flashing wear out quicker than the rest of your roof. It’s an easy fix in terms of roof repairs but may be harder for the average homeowner to see. The only way to inspect pipe flashing conditions is from being on the roof. Often it’s just best to call a local contractor that you trust to come over and inspect!
Uncontrolled water is the biggest threat to homeowners. It’s a slow and silent killer. Here are the most common issues we see on homes.
Lack of Kick-Out Flashings. Even if your gutters are pitched correctly and don’t leak, they may appear to be leaking where the gutter butts up the wall. Or it might look like nothing is wrong at all. Overtime, water constantly slipping between the wall and gutter will find its way behind any house wrap or moisture barrier you have in place. Read more about kick-out flashings
No Downspout Extensions. Often times homeowners remove these extensions out of aggravation. These extensions might seem like a trip hazard, a pain to mow around, or get trampled easily. – but don’t get rid of them! Your home and your foundation need these extensions to route water away from you home. You can add hinges to these extensions to eliminate all the hassle they cause. Click here to read more about downspout hinges.
Inadequate or No House Wrap. Depending on when your home was built and the history of your city’s building codes, your home might not have any house wrap or moisture barrier. For example, the City of Bloomington, IL did not start requiring any form of house wrap until the late 70’s. Practically all houses built before the early 70’s (in Bloomington, IL) are without house wrap. Siding, bricks, shakes or any other exterior cladding are not intended to protect your home from water intrusion. If your home does have house wrap, it might be done incorrectly: applied in small pieces, too many mechanical fasteners, or taped incorrectly. There are alternative moisture barriers to house wrap at similar expenses- Read about EnviroDri.
Bad Pipe Flashings. Pipe flashing have a shorter lifespan than your roof and will need replaced a few times before you need a new roof. It’s a simple fix but if the flashing is cut too large, water will still get in. Watch Nick Coyle replace a pipe flashing.
If you are unsure about any of these, call a local, trustworthy contractor to give you a free inspection.
Fall is right around the corner! Before you get swept away in fall festivities it’s good to make sure your home is ready for fall/winter. The following is a list of maintenance tasks and to-do’s for your home while it’s still nice outside.
Get In The Attic
Look for any leaks, wet spots, or watermarks. Catching any problems before winter hits helps avoid any serious damage and helps keep utility costs down
Get On Your Roof
Sweep debris and leaves off your roof
Look for any missing, loose, and damaged shingles
Inspect flashing and caulking to make sure everything is watertight
Wash your garage door and windows, inside and out
Brush out debris in overhead garage door tracks
Lightly lube hinges, springs with engine oil, run door up and down a few times to evenly disperse oil
Powerwash all dirt and grime off your siding
Inspect for any damage or loose panels
Clean gutters and make sure the water flow is still pitched accurately
What is Dryvit? Dryvit is most frequently referred to as stucco looking material by homeowners but is actually a composite material that was designed to be insulated and water resistant, while maintaining a “beautiful” exterior appearance. The use of this material in the U.S. started in the 1960’s but boomed in the 70’s. The promise of a water resistant decorative insulation made it a popular exterior choice. Why wouldn’t it?
Like most specialized products, Dryvit only works if installed properly. Dryvit is similar to brick’s installation where there needs to be a gap between your sheeting (underlayment) and the Dryvit to allow the moisture to dry without being up against the wood. Knowledgeable installers could not keep up with the high demand of Dryvit in the 70’s , so unqualified installers stepped in. The majority of those jobs were installed wrong, the Dryvit soaks up the water and retains it against the wooden underlayment, allowing it to rot and get moldy. There is no way to tell the condition of the underlayment without removing the Dryvit- many homeowners are living with severe rot and damage without being aware of it.
We were recently hired on to replace a homeowner’s dryvit exterior with a vinyl product because the homeowner was tired of the “dated look” the dryvit gave their home. When we tore off the Dryvit we found out it was not installed properly and a majority of the underlayment had to be replaced. In the photos, you can see all the black mold on the wood and in some cases the wood no longer exists from years of rotting away.
Winter can be brutal on roofs, especially if the shingles are nearing the end of their life. While this past Central Illinois winter has not been as rough as previous years, the cold, wind, and ice build up could have caused some major roof damage that has yet to be seen. Some roof leaks can take a while to become noticeable on the inside; while if caught sooner, less damage will have been done to your home’s interior. Carlson Exteriors is announcing their services for a free inspection of roofs. These inspections include a quality control check of your roof to identify any problematic damage accrued this winter, any sections that look worrisome but do not need immediate attention, and the estimated life expectancy of your roof. If any shingles require immediate attention, Carlson Exteriors will also provide a free estimate for the repairs. The professionals work with many types of roofing material to provide a durable and high quality replacement or repair.
So you’ve decided you want to be your own General Contractor…Congratulations! It was a tough decision to make and the path won’t always be the easiest to take. As the previous blog stated, you don’t have to be construction savvy to feel capable of being a General Contractor (GC) but it is good to have someone you can turn to for advice or tips along the way. If this is your first time being GC, be weary of not exhausting your support person- ideally you’d like to stay friends with them after your home has been built. In the meantime, this blog will attempt to give you a good foundation in beginning your adventure as GC.
First off, if you are married or are with someone,, make sure you both are 100% on board for building your own home as your own General Contractor; this has been known to put quite a strain on relationships.
Be comfortable with and be prepared to assume the risks of being your own General Contractor. For homeowners being their own GC, make sure the contractors are insured and have Workers Compensation insurance. Homeowner’s General Liability insurance will not cover any injuries/accidents to workers on your jobsite- General Liability only protects your physical property. If you have uninsured contractors working for you and they get seriously injured, lawyers will find the homeowner as financially responsible for medical bills, income loss, and whatever else they can think of. If you are being your own GC, it’s safer to eliminate any uninsured contractors from your list- as a bonus; insured contractors usually have a higher quality in their craftsmanship.
Banks are usually more leery of giving construction loans to homeowners building their own home vs homeowners going through established builders or General Contractors. You become a risk to them; banks want to protect their investments. In case something happens and the bank needs to take over their rights on your building project they want to know what’s there is of good quality. The banks know that GC’s will not only allow shoddy work but are also familiar with each stage in the building process; no steps skipped over by being inexperienced. Just be prepared to have loan delays or the loan process in its entirety to not go smoothly or quickly.
Next: Finding, getting, and picking estimates/subcontractors.
It’s time to replace your gutters and you’ve been hearing all these things about 6″ gutters; so, is it worth the money to expand the size of your gutters and downspouts? What are the benefits of that extra inch? What are the drawbacks?
In the past, residential homes have 5″ gutters and 2″x3″ downspouts and commercial buildings have 6″ gutters with 3″x4″ downspouts. Currently, we are seeing more residents expand their downspouts to 3″x4″ and some even install the complete 6″ gutter system.
Pro’s in having a 6″ gutter system:
Able to handle/carry more water
Easier to clean
Debris passes through easier (not to be confused as self-cleaning- the openings are larger so debris has more room to be flushed through- 6″ gutters are not self-cleaning)
Con’s for installing a 6″gutter system:
Costs more to install
Fewer installers have the equipment necessary to install
Debris can still build up
Can be seen as an aesthetic drawback by being larger in size
Like with any home exterior product selection, you need to take in consideration your situation (surrounding trees, roof steepness, etc.), climate, and rainfall density. A 6″ gutter system is more durable against strong storms by being capable to carry more water but if you live in a fairly dry part of the country, water carrying capacity is not a priority of yours. If you don’t want to make the leap completely into 6″gutter system, or can’t find an installer capable, try 3″x4″ downspouts instead of your 2″x3″ downspouts.