Water Management

Rotten OSB and moldy insulation from water running behind siding and house wrap

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

siding and underlayment rotted from water running down the wall
Without a kick-out flashing, water is free to run down your siding and can creep behind your house wrap.
Rotten OSB and moldy insulation from water running behind siding and house wrap
Once you remove the house wrap you can see all the damage that the un-controlled water did behind the house wrap.

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.

downspout extension laying down and then in the up position
Left: Downspout is fully extended for proper water flow Right: Downspout has been lifted up to allow for mowing

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.

cedar siding on chimney. Underneath chimney is rotted usb
Cedar siding doesn’t always protect your home

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.

cracked pipe boot flashing
Cracked pipe boot flashing causes leaks

 

If you are unsure about any of these, call a local, trustworthy contractor to give you a free inspection.

When Should You Get New Windows?

wall of windows

Many people clean their windows pre-summer which doubles as a window inspection. Even if you don’t clean, you should inspect the condition of your windows and window frames. It can be tricky deciding if a repair or  a replacement is the way to go, so, when should you get new windows?

You should consider upgrading your windows if you have single pane windows, typically these windows are found in a pre-1970s house. Single pane windows get stuck easily when opening or closing, are cold to the touch, and often accumulate frost 0n the interior side of the pane- this raises the chances of the window breaking. Keep in mind that difficult to use windows pose a fire safety concern. Ultimately, single pane windows are not energy efficient or user friendly. If you replace the single pane with a dual pane window, a high-performance window, or even a laminated glass window your monthly energy bills should show immediate savings and any outside noise will be diminished.

Signs of a leaky window
Signs of a leaky window

A good rule of thumb is that outside weather conditions should not be present on the inside. Leaky windows can let water through your walls or even in-between your walls. This moisture will make your window and home prone to mold and rot. These same leaky windows will let air in as well creating higher energy bills during peak heating and cooling months.

Look for early signs of rotting wood
Look for early signs of rotting wood

 

A deteriorating window frame is a sign you should replace your windows immediately. If you aren’t interested in all the maintenance that goes into keeping a wooden window frame in good shape, consider an aluminum casing, vinyl casing, or going with a synthetic composite material as your frame. Not having any exposed wood eliminates the resealing and repainting of your frames. It also ensures no rotting, flaking, or fading while not compromising the durability of your window. You can easily check your own windows for rotting by poking it with a screw driver to see if there is any give. You could also call a trusted home inspector, a window contractor, or window installer to check your windows for you.

A rotten window frame
A rotten window frame

Your windows need to be functional and aesthetically pleasing. Mismatched or old windows can bring down the value of your home. Just like everything else that goes into a home, an ugly or an outdated style of a window can be reason enough to install new windows. Replacing your windows does have it’s benefits: increased home value, energy savings, easy to clean/take care of, and, simply, everyone loves a beautiful window.

Two story bay windows in orange brick home with withe dentil moulding
Bay Window Replacement in BLoomington, IL

 

Spring Rains Bring Clogged Gutters

clogedgutters

Spring is a wonderful time of year unless you are stuck cleaning out your gutters. Besides being an unwanted chore, there can be serious consequences that come with damaged and obstructed gutters. Gutters sole purpose is to divert water away from your home and roof- if this is not the case, possible problems can be mold, mildew, roof damage, siding damage, and foundational damage. Gutters filled with debris often rust as the leaves decompose. Gutters full of water can become to heavy and fall off causing roof and siding damager. Standing water at the base of your home poses a potentially large problem to your basement but mostly your foundation, causing it to become weaker over time, crack, mold, mildew, or dry rot.

Get ahead of the game and make sure your gutters are ready for the Spring rains and Fall leaves by keeping up on your gutter maintenance. A few things to pay attention to:

Make sure water is being directed away from your home. Typically older homes often have a “splash block” that sits underneath the downspout and sends the water away. Some newer homes might have downspouts that go under the ground and connect to underground drainpipes. Standing water at the base of your home can be detrimental to the foundation.

Make sure you have flashing at the eaves; this protects the wooden fascia that the gutters connect too. If the wood fascia does not have flashing, when a gutter gets backed up the wood sits in that water. That wood will rot, get termites, roof rot, or even insect manifestation.

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Make sure the gutter pitch is effective for water to flow towards the downspout. If the flow runs smoothly, water will drain instead of pool. If there is standing water in the gutters the possible problems are rusting gutters, foundation issues from over spillage, bugs, and roof/siding damage if the gutter becomes too heavy and falls.

Don’t have any loose or missing gutter segments. Having uncontrolled water will lead to it going into any unwanted areas such as window trim, doors, siding, foundation. Besides ruining your gardening, this water can cause mold, mildew, rotting, siding damage- especially with fiber cement siding, crawlspace moisture, or even damage to your structural integrity.

If cleaning out gutters is not your thing, think about getting some form of gutter protection. Having a form of gutter guard has many benefits: gutters only need to be cleaned out 3-5 years instead of 2 times a year. Since leaves aren’t decomposing inside the gutters, your gutters won’t prematurely rust. Water flow will be more consistent, have less to no blockage, and less stagnant water which means less breeding insects.

There are many different types of gutter protection
Rx Gutter Guard

Proper Roof Ventilation

Most people know that their roofs need to be ventilated, but you might find yourself asking these questions: What is the purpose of ventilation? What does proper ventilation look like? How do I know if my roof ventilation is functioning? What are signs that my roof isn’t properly ventilated? And finally what are my options and how do I pick? Hopefully this article will answer those questions for you.

Heat and moisture attack and destroy the home; besides the weather, we create humidity with our day to day activities such as showering and cooking. If not removed, heat and moisture can cause your paint to peel, your insulation to become wet and flat, mildew and mold, rotting wood, crumbling shingles, and higher utility bills. Ventilation adds longevity to your roof system, which is why all shingle manufacturers include it within their warranty; you don’t want to void that!

Appropriate ventilation keeps the air flow going throughout your attic. The air flow pulls the heat and moisture out of your attic. In the summer, ventilation keeps your attic cooler- this is desirable for 2 reasons. First and most obviously, your AC bill will be lower because your home won’t retain heat. The second reason requires a quick explanation about shingles. The granules on the outside of your shingle aren’t there just to make your house look pretty but it protects the fiber layers underneath (the heart of every shingle). These granules have been formulated to withstand elemental damage such as hail and heat. During the summer months, the shingles cannot protect the underneath side from heat. They just weren’t made for that. Keeping your attic cooler in summer through ventilation guarantees that the shingles won’t cook from the inside out.

Mold in the Attic
Mold in the Attic
Ice layer in the attic
Ice layer in the attic

There are many signs that your roof’s ventilation is not adequate. Without climbing into your attic, you can tell that it isn’t functioning correctly if your house won’t cool in the summer.  once you are in your attic, look up; if you see mold you know that moisture is not escaping. In winter this moisture freezes and in extreme cases becomes a sheet of ice; as this ice melts you essentially have rain in your attic. This will ruin your insulation and your ceiling drywall. If your ventilation was installed incorrectly, the exhaust vents turn into intake vents which will suck snow into your attic.

Exhaust vents must be at least 3 feet higher than the intake for the air to be pulled continuously.
Exhaust vents must be at least 3 feet higher than the intake for the air to be pulled continuously.

Knowing your ventilation options go hand in hand with knowing what is needed. Proper ventilation is 50% intake and 50% exhaust, many installers go into a job that needs better ventilation will just add more exhaust vents but if it can’t be exactly 50-50 it’s better to have more intake than exhaust. Vented soffit is where you get your intake.

The exhaust vents need to be on the same side of the ridge so they don't turn into intake vents.
The exhaust vents need to be on the same side of the ridge so they don’t turn into intake vents.

In the same attic body, keep all exhaust vents installed at the same level, same side of the ridge, and same style of vent to ensure that the exhaust vents don’t turn into intake vents. Venting options include but are not limited to box vents, ridge vents, and turbine vents (also known as whirlybirds). Ridge vents are better than box vents because they are placed at the peak of your roof where heat rises to. The tricky part about ridge vents is having the proper ratio which I’m not going to go into the crazy equations, but just know that your contractor should be aware of this to get proper air flow with ridge vents. Whirlybird vents are great because they actively pull out the heat while all other ventilations just rely on the heat to create the flow.

Different styles of exhaust vents.
Different styles of exhaust vents.

Happy Venting!