5 Exterior Home Maintenance Tips to Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather

In the spring, many Wisconsin homeowners get to work sprucing up their homes for the summer. We check the house for winter weather damage and look at any areas that need to be touched up.

But then summer heats up and plans start to take up our weekends. One weekend, we’re headed up North and the next weekend, we’re spending time at the lake. Before we know it, summer is nearing an end, and many of those exterior home maintenance projects have gone by the wayside.

Don’t worry, there is still time to prepare your home for fall and winter weather. Follow these 5 exterior home maintenance tips to get ready for winter.

1. Check Your Gutters and Downspout

Even if you checked your gutters in the spring, it’s time to give them another assessment as we come upon fall. If you have gutter protection in place, a visual check should be sufficient. Look at the outside of your gutter. Check for cracks, areas where the gutter is pulling away from the fascia (connecting the gutter and roof), or water running down the house. You may need to use your hose to test for water leaks.

Look at your gutter protection system. Is it in place? Are there any damaged areas? Gutters should be covered and sealed tightly with no leaks or areas where water can get near your home’s foundation. If you notice any standing or slow-moving water in the gutter, you may have a clog. Water should flow away from your home and freely out of the downspout.

If you don’t have gutter protection or your gutters are damaged, it’s time to consider gutter replacement. Over time, your gutters can become loose and the seals can give way, especially without proper gutter protection systems. Consider an update as part of your exterior home maintenance to prepare your house for winter.


Watch this video from Tod & Todd explaining why gutter protection systems are so important.

 


2. Assess Your Roof

Another area of your home’s exterior to explore is your roof. Climbing up on a ladder can be dangerous (and you can even damage your shingles), so do a visual inspection from the ground. Look for areas where the shingles are peeling up or curling. If the edges are starting to turn, it’s a telltale sign your roof may be due for replacement.

Other signs you need a roof replacement include shingles that are loose or falling off. Discoloration and fading are unsightly and can also indicate that your roof has aged. In Wisconsin, we often think that the winter is the hardest time on the roof, but summer also presents hazards. Hail storms, heat, humidity, and improper ventilation of your home can lead to roof problems.

Another indication that your roof has aged is to look at the runoff in your gutter. Do you see roofing materials like sand or asphalt pieces accumulating? This sediment indicates that your roof is deteriorating. If you notice these signs, call Weather Tight for an assessment. We’ll use a state-of-the-art imaging tool called RoofSnap to photograph your roof from above. This tool allows us to see exactly what issues you may have missed and will help us offer you an estimate for roof replacement.

3. Look Around Your Windows

Full Frame Window

One of the most essential exterior home maintenance tips to help you prepare for winter is to look at your windows. Windows aren’t only your home’s eyes, letting in light and fresh air in the summer—windows also serve a crucial insulating function in the winter. They keep your house warm and protected from cold weather.

Windows should be relatively low maintenance. With regular washing, your windows should stay bright and clear all year round. If you notice cloudiness between panes, a constantly foggy appearance, or mildew and mold growing along the window casing, it’s time to give our window replacement team a call! Other indicators that your windows are failing include cracked paint and soft or damp wood anywhere around your windows (indoors or out).

Do you get out the tape and plastic each winter to “seal up” your windows for winter? Believe it or not, this typical Wisconsin winter home maintenance step isn’t at all necessary if you have correctly installed windows. Your windows should be free of air infiltration and leaks. Many of our customers are shocked to find out how much energy they’re losing with leaky windows!

4. Inspect Your Siding and Exterior Finish

Now that you’ve looked at your gutters, roof, and windows, it’s time to take a look at your exterior finish overall. How does your home look from the curb? If you have aluminum siding, are there dents or dings? Has the siding been pitted due to weather or mistreatment? Are there areas where the siding is loose or even falling off?

Those with stucco or wood-finish homes should take a look at the paint and finish on your house. Is the paint peeling or are there any signs of mildew, pests, or water damage? Not only do these exterior finish problems detract from the value and curb appeal of your home, but they can indicate much larger (and more expensive) issues on the horizon.

If your home could use a facelift, consider investing in beautiful, low-maintenance vinyl siding! Not only will new siding save you the hassle of painting each year, but it can really increase the look and even the comfort of your home. We remove old siding, and underneath each siding job, we apply a special home wrap that allows your house to “breathe” properly. The new siding is weather-tight to ensure your home stays warm in the winter (and cool in the summer).

5. Don’t Ignore Your Front Door

Finally, the fifth tip for exterior home maintenance is to take a look at your front door. Does your door leak air? Do you have to keep a rug snuggled up to the door (or worse, a beanbag snake) to block the drafts that come in? Have you ever had snow or frost sneak into the INSIDE of your front door?

A new door keeps the cold air out and improves your home’s look, safety, and security. It may seem like a minor project, but your front door has a significant impact on your house. Unfortunately, many homeowners try to DIY their front door update. This project can lead to leaks and even security issues if the door isn’t correctly installed.

Leave the front door update to the professionals! A new front door is an affordable way to change your home’s exterior, increase your safety, and your comfort. If you have a drafty front door, don’t wait another year or suffer through another winter. Call us today to discuss your options.

We can do many home exterior updates all year round, so don’t worry about the coming winter months. Our team works in most weather conditions to ensure your home exterior project is completed to your satisfaction. Contact us today and learn just how stress-free home exterior projects can be!

 

Why It’s Important to Fix Wood Rot Around Your Home ASAP

Wood rot around your home is a big issue that often goes under a homeowner’s radar—until it’s too late.

A leaky window or cracking sill is an indication of wood rot around windows, but it’s also a sign the problem has escalated. Here’s what you need to know to head off the issue of wood rot before it destroys your windowsills or foundation and becomes an expensive problem.

 

What Causes Wood Rot?

The short answer is that moisture causes wood to rot. While windows are built to withstand and protect your home from the effects of weather, improper window or siding installation, poor roof replacement or roofing damages, or gutter issues can lead to water seeping into your windowsills by not flowing out away from the home correctly.

Along the top of windows, flashing protects the window frame from moisture and leakage, allowing water to drain over the top of the window. If the flashing is damaged or missing, water sits on the top of the window casing and gets into the frame over time. When not adequately drained, water may also leak into the walls or posts of the house and lead to an even more significant issue.

Here’s an example of a home with this type of flashing issue. As you can see, the homeowner had wood rot throughout the sills and frames of their window due to moisture accumulation from gutter issues as well as a roofing issue.

Where there is moisture, carpenter ants, termites, and other bugs find these cool, damp areas ideal for setting up their own homes. When these critters get into your woodwork, you often need professional assistance to address the problem, as they tend to eat away at the wood. If you treat the infestation soon enough, you’ll prevent lasting damage to the woodwork in your home.

When combined, pests and water lead to the perfect storm of wood rot and damage around windows, vents, and doors. Any area of your home with wood trim may experience this problem, but the frame surrounding many windows is made of wood and regularly exposed to moisture, making it extremely susceptible to rot and damage. Challenges with your siding (away from windows) can also create an escape zone for water to seep into, creating similar challenges.

Unfortunately, wood rot may go on for years before a homeowner notices the problem. When you realize there’s an infestation or wood rot problem, it may be too late for a small intervention. You may need to replace your windows and tear out the sill and frame entirely, replace full siding, or even worse, need structural changes and updates.

If you’re worried about the issue of wood rot around your home–in your windows, siding, or doors– take a few moments to examine your home for the early signs of wood rot.

Knowing the Signs of Wood Rot Around Your Home

Recently, we worked with a homeowner who had a big problem with wood rot in their door and windows that were recently replaced. When we arrived prior to replacing their door and windows, we noticed some paint peeling and chipping in the corner (very minimal) but generally, that is a sign that there is an underlying issue. Upon further exploration, we found that the issue was stemming from a faulty gutter with multiple seams as well as a poorly constructed, flat rubber roof that was allowing water to pool. Water was leaking in behind the siding and running into the frame. Carpenter ants feasting on the rotting wood had compounded the problem. As we investigated, we were amazed the corner of the roof was still standing, seeing as there was so much rot.


Here’s a special Tod & Todd’s Home Improvement Tips video, where we show the window damage this homeowner sustained from wood rot:

 

 


Don’t let this problem happen to you! It’s a big expense, and often, homeowners must replace their windows, doors, or siding entirely. If you do not fix the root cause of the issues (gutters, roofing, framing issues, etc), it is likely that these issues will occur again. Wood rot is one problem that is best addressed early on, at the first sign of an issue.

To check for signs of wood rot around your home, inspect the windowsills and frames. Are there any cracks or degraded looking areas? If there are holes or spots where the wood is crumbling, then there’s a problem.

Watch for signs of mildew as well. While most windows get condensation, it should accumulate on the inside of your windows. It may be necessary to prevent condensation with a dehumidifier, fan, or proper ventilation. If your windows accumulate a lot of condensation, it can lead to rotting of the surrounding wood. Condensation or fogging should never build up between windowpanes; this indicates seal failure.

The primary cause of wood rot around windows, doors, and siding is water running toward your home. If you notice gutters dripping water on your windows or at the base of your doors, or even down your siding, paint bubbling, or a window frame that seems constantly damp, it’s time to investigate. Improper flashing, older siding, and leaky gutters result in water pooling and buildup beneath the exterior trim of your house. Water should never, ever leak into your home, either.

Another indication of wood rot is carpenter ants or termites. If you start to see ants in your home, it means there’s a hole somewhere. Follow these visitors to their origin and address the problem head-on. Ants can do a great deal of damage before you even realize they’re living in your wood trim.

Lastly, if you see a spot that looks discolored, take a pencil, pen, or object to poke with, and press on the spot. If it seems soft to the touch, that is an indication that there is likely soft wood underneath from water damage and rot.

If homeowners watch for the signs and address them early, the remedy is often simple. You may need to repair a gutter, fix the flashing, or hire a professional to exterminate the pests. It’s imperative to correct the issue asap. Wood rot is a concern that shouldn’t wait.

Unfortunately, wood rot in one window or spot is rarely an isolated case, so stay diligent when watching for wood rot around your home. If you notice even small areas of decay, call us right away. Don’t wait!

Your Weather Tight expert will help you assess the issue and mitigate any damage your home has sustained. If it’s a quick fix, we’ll walk you through the solution. We will also help you decide if it’s time for replacement products or home remodeling. Weather Tight does not specialize in repair work, but a lot of times, when an issue becomes noticeable, replacement products are needed, and we are happy to help you address what you may need.

Your home is your castle. Don’t let it crumble due to wood rot. Tackle it right away by calling Weather Tight today!

Customization is the key.

I can’t think of a singular reason in the world that the products you put in or on your home- should be any LESS customizable to our lives than the clothes we wear. Your roof should complement your home like your hairstyle compliments the shape of your face. Your siding should fit like a good pair of worn in shoes. We seek the things that have duality, things that work in more ways than one while still providing a security within ourselves to feel confident about it.

Should you invest in Diamond Kote® siding? Indubitably! Let us tell you why.

It is spring in Wisconsin.. well.. sort of. I am starting to think Mother Nature went AWOL. However- we know that in due time the grass will start to brighten, displaying lush hues of striking emerald. We will find ourselves able to enjoy those lazy sun-drenched afternoons – accompanied by the unambiguous aroma of a charcoal barbecue. Everything that winter left barren & achromatic will come alive & I think we all deserve to catch up on our depleted levels of vitamin D! :)