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Common Winter Roofing Blues

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Humans are not the only ones who become blue in the winter, your roof can too. The pressure of the hard, cold days and nights, piling up on top of it, as well as the wind blowing across every shingle. No wonder your roof responds poorly. Here are some of the signs that your roof has the winter blues, and could use a little love from the folks at High Quality Contracting Inc. 

Condensation

When the heat from your home reaches the cold service of the roof it results in condensation. The condensation moistens the existing insulation and wood causing mold and mildew to grow resulting in the interior structure of your home being damaged. To check for this you can go into. your attack space and look for moisture, wet marks, and mold. To prevent this from happening you must eliminate the amount of air leakage into your attic as well as improve the insulation & ventilation which will allow moist air to escape the roof. 

iciclesIcicles

Although those icicles are beautiful to look at, they are dangerous, furthermore, they are a sign that your roof may have a problem. Icicles are the result from heat melting the snow on your roof and then the water forming around the gutter system. The problem with icicles is that they are dangerous and can fall on someone or damage property, as well as, the weight from several well-formed icicles is daunting on the structure of your roof and existing gutter system. To prevent icicles from forming, clean out gutters during the fall, and sweep the snow off your roof and from your gutters.

 

Ice dams

The most dangerous of winter roof hazards are ic dams. These nasty structures form when the snow melts on the warm roof, resulting in the accumulation of ice and water on the roof and under the shingles. The fact is that an ice dam does not need to be thick to cause a problem. They can be as thin as one inch and severely damage the integrity of your roof. They can become very heavy and often result in roofing leaks and damage. Most often by the time you find the leak inside of your home, the damage has been there quite a while because often the water from the ice dam pushes into the home and travels around the wall and ceiling cavities until it finds an escape. 

So what do you do if you think you have an ice dam situation? We would strongly suggest contacting a licensed and insured roofing specialist like High Quality Contracting, Inc.  We will investigate the problem and develop a solution based on your specific home structure and needs. It is not always an insulation problem that needs to be addressed, sometimes, missing shingles, air leaks in gaps, or aging roofing is the cause.  

Remember as the winter cold hits your face, it is also hitting your home. Keep your home happy this winter and chase the winter blues away by keeping your roof strong and sound. 

 

Chase Away Winter Blues with these Home Remodeling Tips.

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increased natural lighting in home

Wisconsin’s long cold winter months can sometimes cause homeowners to get the winter blues and increase the symptoms of depression. But have no fear, help is near. Did you know that by making a few remodeling changes to your home you can help with these symptoms?

Since it is Mental Health Month, we thought to share tips for remodeling that will help. It is a scientific fact that increased natural lighting can help with feelings of Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. By making some of these changes in your home, you can improve your homes natural light, air flow and a general sense of well being.

Full-length windows

If your home has small or very few windows consider larger windows or more of them to allow light in. Consider full-length windows that brighten a room or a large bay window. You can also add fun items like a window seat or a book nook to create that cozy feel and give you a space to relax in the sun.

Add skylights

Another great way to increase lighting is to add skylights. Skylights can bring in lots of light and improve your homes energy efficiency by allowing the sun to help heat your home. A skylight is like a window in the roof, but its frame is designed and flashed to withstand the rigors of rainfall that a shelter receives. It allows for daylight to fill the home with both warmth and light which in turn reduces your energy costs, the amount is dependant on the amount of sun that your area gets. The more sun, the more warmth, and light you receive.

Screened in porches

Screened in porches are great, but, what about changing that porch to fully enclosed space with large paned windows. This would provide plenty of space to sit and relax in the sun while still staying warm and indoors.

Change the hardware

Changing the hardware, you are using for the lights can also help. If you light switches are attached to poorly lit ceiling lights, opt to change those items out for newer energy efficient lighting systems.

Light bulbs can make a huge difference in the amount of light in a home. User a higher wattage if you are using only 60-watt bulbs. Consider fluorescent or natural exposure bulbs to brighten a dull and darkened room.

Open concept 

Opening up walls for an open concept look is not only a way to improve lighting but airflow and energy efficiency as well. The light can now resonate throughout the home more naturally as well as heat can be distributed efficiently.

Doors

Increase the brightness in your home with French glass doors rather than a solid interior door. You can still have privacy, but the glass allows the illumination to flow.

Don’t forget the front or back doors of your home as well. Install a newer energy efficient door with triple paned glass for security yet the ability to allow light to flow in from the space. Or consider a glass storm door which you can use to let light in during the day while still being able to close and lock the more massive solid door at night or when you are away.

Don’t let the winter months bring you down. There are so many ways to brighten your home. The best way to handle any home remodeling project is by contacting a High Quality Contracting, Inc design expert to help you devise a custom plan that fits your home and your budget.

The Homeowners Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Along with the taste of hot apple cider, the smell of burning leaves, and the beauty of the trees comes the autumn fall maintenance checklist. No, it’s not fun. But, every good homeowner knows it must be done to keep themselves and their families safe from the elements and cozy once the cold winter months hit. You have 6 to 8 weeks to get ready in Wisconsin so the sooner you tackle this, the sooner you can sit back with your fuzzy socks and enjoy the beauty of the season. To help you out, High Quality Contracting Inc. developed this handy checklist for your fall home maintenance plan.

Inspect your roof

 

 When it comes to home maintenance, many homeowners forget to check their roofs at least twice a year for damage. They usually realize something is wrong when the damage has gotten so big that the cost is, well,“Through the Roof!”. So, now is the time to do that inspection. Walk around the outside of your home at your roof looking for signs of damage, sagging or aging. Take notes of areas that you find may need further inspection. Pay particular attention to areas that moss, algae, and leaves pile up because those areas are prone to get water and leaking damage. Look for buckled, curled or missing shingles. Look for granule loss (texture on shingles) which is an indication that the shingles are aging and worn from the weather, they may need replacing. If you are able to get up on a ladder and look at your roof, do it. Check the spots that you had noted for damage. If you are not able to get up on a ladder, contact a local roofing expert such as High Quality Contracting, Inc. to come to take a look for you. We have been repairing and replacing roofs since 1999 along with other great contracting services. We can also inspect your home’s siding if needed.

Check attic for wet or missing insulation

This is an area that many homeowners also forget. Who wants to crawl around in an itchy attic and check their insulation, right? But, you should. Wet insulation means that leaks are coming through the roof. It can cause further damage and molding issues if not address. Missing or condensed insulation causes your attic to leak out your winters heat causing your energy bills to skyrocket while your home stays cold.  Pay attention to corners and around areas that have those storage items to make sure your items are not wet or having been leaked down on. If you find a problem- We are the experts ready to help.

Clear out and repair gutters

Clogged or damaged gutters can cause ice dams, siding damage, and roofing damage. It is imperative to check your gutters for any damaged or missing drain spouts. Climb up on the ladder (if your comfortable doing so) and remove any debris, leaves, sticks etc. from the gutter system. If you have problems getting up on a ladder, you may want to consider having new gutters with a gutter guard system installed. These revolutionary systems help prevent a buildup of debris and ice dams from forming.

 

Caulking cracks and gaps

When cold weather hits, the cold air starts leaking into your home along with the neighborhood critters who are seeking refuge and a bite to eat in your pantry. Keep them both out by sealing cracks and gaps around your home. There are several great products out on the market that can help you fill in the small cracks such as caulk, GreatStuff, and Flex Seal. For larger gaps and cracks, you may need some wire mesh, heavy-duty hardware cloth or hire a professional contractor to handle the problem.  We found these useful tips from the Department of Energy on their website http://www.Energy.gov.

Tips for Sealing Air Leaks

  • Test your home for air tightness.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
  • Inspect dirty spots in your insulation for air leaks and mold. Seal leaks with low-expansion spray foam made for this purpose and install house flashing if needed.
  • Look for dirty spots on your ceiling paint and carpet, which may indicate air leaks at interior wall/ceiling joints and wall/floor joists, and caulk them.
  • Cover single-pane windows with storm windows or replace them with more efficient double-pane low- emissivity windows. See the windows section for more information.
  • Use foam sealant on larger gaps around windows, baseboards, and other places where air may leak out.
  • Cover your kitchen exhaust fan to stop air leaks when not in use.
  • Check your dryer vent to be sure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire.
  • Replace door bottoms and thresholds with ones that have pliable sealing gaskets.
  • Keep the fireplace flue damper tightly closed when not in use.
  • Seal air leaks around fireplace chimneys, furnaces, and gas-fired water heater vents with fire-resistant materials such as sheet metal or sheetrock and furnace cement caulk.

 

Affix weather-stripping

Applying weather-stripping around the frames of windows and doors can help reduce your energy costs. Weather seals rip, compress, and wear over time so remedy this with weather stripping. Another great fashionable item homeowners find useful are colorful draft stoppers. These sometimes home-made, sometimes store bought products adhere to the bottom of your door and help to reduce cold weather air from getting in. If your door has damage or larger gaps, consider having a new door installed by High Quality Contracting Inc. Give us a call today.  

Trim bushes and trees

Trimming back your bushes and removing any dead branches from trees is a good thing to do this time of year. If you have several trees on your property, consider hiring an arborist to check out the health of your trees. This time of year is the perfect time to have these specialists check your trees for disease, to safely trim back the branches that may fall in the winter, and to apply treatments into the trees for fungus and diseases such as diplodia.

Prepare your windows for winter

Newer weather resistant windows do not need much maintenance. They simply need to be shut and locked closed. But, if you are like many Wisconsin homeowners and you have windows that are older that leak air, you have a lot more do to than that to ready yourself for the winter months. Installing weather stripping and plastic are two options that can help. If the window is cracked or broken it will need to be replaced. If you can feel a heavy breeze or you can see a gap between the window and the seal around it, it may be time to replace your windows. High Quality Contracting Inc. can help you with an estimate of the costs to have that happen. We install all types of windows and doors to help keep your heat in and the elements out.

Check walkways, railings, stairs

It is important to check your stair railings, walkways, and stairs for loose rails, boards and large cracks or gaps. Loose rails and boards can lead to serious slip and fall situations during the winter months. Large cracks and gaps in the walkways can cause ice to build up and for you to slip and fall. If you find your stairs, decks or railings to be faulty, contact a certified contractor like High Quality Contracting Inc. to come and repair or replace the items for you. No one wants to spend the winter in a cast. Taking care of these dangerous items now can save you later.

Shut off exterior faucets

Prepping your pipes from freezing and damage can save you a bundle in repair bills. Simply shut off exterior faucets and valves before the winter freeze hits. Drain and roll up your hoses and put them away for the winter. If you have a faucet that sticks out a little bit, adding some foam or insulation products around the pipe is a good idea as well.

Stock winter supplies

Don’t wait until you have 3 feet of snow on your front driveway before you realize that you might need a snow shovel. Check your shovels, ready the snow blower with yearly maintenance, get out the snow brushes for the cars, and purchase the ice melt products that you need. Don’t forget, if you have pets or plants, check for products that are safe to use. Many retailers offer specials early in the season, and prices can go up if they start running low. Don’t be caught unprepared.

Check safety devices

Now is the perfect time to check your safety devices around your home. Check your fire extinguishers and replace them if they are past the expiration date. Check the batteries in your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If you have never had your home checked for radon, now is the time to do it. High radon levels of 4 and above can be extremely harmful to you and your family, so having this checked is important.

Cover up the A/C units

Window A/C units should be either removed or covered before the weather turns cold. Covers can be purchased at a local hardware store or home specialty store. If you have a central air conditioning unit, you will want to consult your owners manual before ever covering your unit. Some units should not be covered to prevent moisture build up and others are recommended to be covered. It depends. If you are not sure, contact a local A/C company or the manufacturer to find out.

Check dryer vents

As you use your home dryer through-out the year, the lint sometimes passes through and builds up in the venting tube. When this happens, it causes your dryer to work less efficiently and becomes a fire hazard. The cool, dry fall and winter air causes an increase in static electricity which can ignite with the lint. Clear this out and if needed replace the lint vent tubing with new tubing. You will be surprised at home much actually gathers in there.

Schedule chimney cleaning

Nothing better than a warm cozy fireplace or wood burning stove in the winter. Keep those items working at their peak and safely with an annual cleaning and maintenance. Be sure to include a chimney cap if needed to keep creatures from climbing down your chimney when it is not in use. This will help keep your family safe to warm up by the fire.

Schedule heating maintenance and change your filter

Just like the fireplace and the wood burning stove, your home’s heater needs regular maintenance. The last thing you want is to have it break down in subzero temperatures in the middle of the night where the cost for repairs will go way up. Prevent all of that by scheduling a heating company to come in and check your products. The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau has a great list of contractors who have been verified to help you choose the right contractor for your home. Also, don’t forget to change your heating filter and replace it with a high-quality one. Your heating system has sat all summer long and the filter will be dirty and dusty. Replacing that will help keep allergies down and your unit working efficiently.

 

 

What is Ice Damming and how does it affect my roof?

ice damming

 

Perhaps you have heard the term “Ice Dam” or “Ice Damming” and are not sure what exactly that is or how it affects your home. We have the answers for you.

An ice dam refers to a rim of ice that forms at the edges of your room and gutter systems that prevent water and melting snow to run off the roof (drain) properly. The water backs up and can cause damage to the roof, interior walls, insulation, ceiling, around windows as well as other areas. Ice dams can also be dangerous as when they break loose, sharp ice and icicles can fall to the ground potentially harming people or pets.

Mold and mildew problems caused by ice dams.

Not only does an ice dam cause damage to your home but it can also cause a health hazard with mold and mildew growth. The moisture and water leaking into the house will soak into the walls, insulation, and drywall. When this happens long enough, mold spores and mildew begin to grow.

How are ice dams formed?

Ice dams are formed when the higher portions of the roof are above 32°F while lower surfaces are below 32°F. The water at the more moderate portion freezes and the more elevated portion runs down to the lower portion backing up behind the ridge adding to the ice dam.

How does the roof maintain two different temperatures?

Heat rises. When the heat rises if the insulation on the inside of the attack space or in a variety of roofing areas is not sealed properly the top of the roof will become warmer than the edges of the roof. The heat loss also prevents the home from heating fulling and increases home energy costs.

How do you prevent ice damming?

To prevent ice dams from forming it is important to check the insulation levels in your attic as well as make sure that your roof, soffits, and vents are all sealed properly. It is also essential to make sure that your gutters are free of debris and corrosion as this can cause the water from draining correctly. Roof shingles should be well maintained and lose shingles and rotting boards replaced. Flashing around the chimney should be sealed well.

How do I clear an ice dam that is already formed?

Safety is critical in this area as that when you are removing an ice dam, you can quickly be hit with massive clumps of ice that roll off the roof. A roof rake is preferred if you have one or to call an expert to remove the ice dam to prevent further damage or injury.

What is the best type of insulation to use in my attic to help prevent ice dams?

Every home is different as to what kind of insulation works the best for your particular home. Homes with angled ceilings and no attic, roofs with skylights, flat roof dormers and low-slope roofs are especially challenging to vent at a proper level to prevent the ice dams from forming. To understand which options are best for your home it is best to ask an expert such as High Quality Contracting to review your situation.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to review your ice damming problem, please contact us here.