Roof – How to Clean Algae and Moss Off Asphalt Shingles

How to Clean Algae and Moss Off Asphalt Shingles Stains on asphalt roofing shingles make a house look shabby, which detracts from its value. In some cases, stains are merely a cosmetic issue.  But sometimes they’re symptomatic of a problem that, if left unchecked, can lead to more serious damage and, eventually, roof failure. It’s not always hard to distinguish the causes of stains, nor, in most cases, to get rid of them and prevent the stains from recurring. Common Causes of Staining Dark stains on an asphalt roof could be caused by a number of conditions, including: Eroded mineral surface. If the roof-covering material has been on the house for 15 years or so, it could be that the surface granules are wearing off the shingles and the asphalt base is starting to show through. On older roofs, you may additionally see cracked and/or shingles with curled edges. If you determine that age and wear are the causes of darkening, it may be time for a new roof. Algae growth. More often than not, blue, green or black stains on an asphalt-shingle roof are caused by algae. Algae staining begins with small spots which, over time, can develop into streaks. Algae stains, which are often mistaken for mold or mildew, aren’t harmful to anything other than the appearance of asphalt shingles, but nobody likes the look. Algae-stained asphalt-shingle roof (photo by author) Moss. Green, velvety masses of moss often grow on north-facing roof surfaces and on tree-shaded roofs. Unlike algae, moss left on roof surfaces can develop beyond an aesthetic problem. It can infiltrate the roof structure underneath the shingles and...

Faulty Windows – Top 5 Fast Fixes

Top 5 Fast Fixes for Faulty Windows Do I repair or replace faulty windows? There’s a common misconception that if your home has older windows that are in less-than-perfect condition, you must replace them with new windows. But as long as the window is structurally sound, you can fix most problems and extend the window’s service life by many years. Of course, there are instances when a window is so badly damaged that it’s beyond repair, such as when the entire frame is rotted, or if there’s extensive termite damage. Then, it’s time for a new set of windows. However, some of the most common window problems can be fixed with minimal time and money. Listed below are five window repairs that any DIY-er can handle. All you need are some basic carpentry skills, a few simple tools, and a free afternoon. 1.  Block out drafts. Caulk around window frames to block out drafts and wind-driven rain.   The number one problem with older windows is that they don’t seal very tightly, which allows cold air to blow in during the winter and cooled air to escape during the summer. To fix the seals, start by caulking around the exterior window frame to block the flow of air from the outside. Look for gaps between the perimeter of the frame and the house siding or exterior trim boards. Use a stiff-bristle brush and putty knife to clean the gaps of all dust, dirt and debris. Then, overfill the gaps slightly with acrylic-latex silconized caulk. Smooth out the caulk bead with a wet finger. Next, seal around the inside of...

PREVENTING MOISTURE INTRUSION

  Preventing Moisture Intrusion Monitor the Exterior  Planters:  Check any planting beds adjacent to the foundation of your house because planters are built in a way that traps water, which may infiltrate hidden areas of your home. The structure around the planting beds acts like a dam and traps water. Flower planters should never be installed up against a house’s exterior wall.  Puddles:  Puddles and areas of standing water are not good. The ground surface beneath decks, porches and other parts of a house that are supported by posts or cantilevered structures should be checked, especially if you have a sprinkler system. The ground should not have any low-lying areas but should be sloped so that water will not collect and puddle there. Settled backfill allows water to collect next to the foundation wall and penetrate the house’s foundation.  Gutters & Downspouts:  Downspouts may need adjustment. Water from the roof reaches the ground through gutters and downspouts or by flowing directly off roof edges. Because downspouts create concentrated sources of water in the landscape, where they discharge is important. Downspouts should not discharge where water will flow directly onto or over a walkway, driveway or stairs. The downspouts on a hillside home should discharge on the downhill-side of the building. The force of water leaving a downspout is sometimes great enough to damage the adjacent ground, so some protection at grade, such as a splash block or a paved drainage chute, is needed. In urban areas, it is better to drain downspouts to an underground storm water drainage system, if there is one, or underground to discharge at a...

Doors and Stairs – Moving Onward and Upwards

Doors Interior Doors:  Monitor the condition of your home’s doors and door frames, including the interior of entrance doors and storm doors. Check their hardware for finish, wear, and proper functioning. Sticking doors or out-of-square frames may indicate house settlement, which is normal.   Exterior Doors:  Exterior doors should be checked often for their condition, operation, and the functionality of their hardware. Door types include hinged, and single and double doors made of wood, steel, aluminum, and plastic with and without glazing. Monitor wood and plastic doors that are not protected from the weather. These doors should be rated for exterior use. Some homes use glass-framed doors of fixed and operable panels that have wood, vinyl-covered wood, and aluminum frames. Check the tracks of these sliding doors for dents, breaks and straightness.  Doors should also be monitored for the exterior condition of their frames and sills. Check doors that are not protected from the weather for the presence of essential flashing at the head. Over time, the interior condition and hardware of exterior doors can wear out or fail.   Garage Doors:  Garage doors should be monitored for operation, weathertightness, overall condition, and fit. Garage doors are typically made of wood, hardboard on a wood frame, steel, fiberglass on a steel frame, and aluminum. Garage doors come with glazed panes in a wide variety of styles. Wood and hardboard can rot, hardboard can crack and split, steel can rust, fiberglass can deteriorate from ultraviolet light, and aluminum can dent.  Garage doors with motors should be periodically tested using each of the operators on the system, such as key-lock switch...

12 Devices for Child-Proofing Your Home

12 Devices for Child-Proofing Your Home About 2.5 million children are injured or killed each year by hazards in the home. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child-safety devices available today. Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It’s important to follow installation instructions carefully. In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof; determined youngsters have been known to disable them. You can child-proof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug stores, home and linen stores, and through online and mail-order catalogues. Here are some child-safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children. Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects. Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but that are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances. Even products with child-resistant packaging should be locked away out...