How to Prep Your Deck for Winter

how to prep your deck for winter

Your deck has served you well spring, summer, and fall. It has been a place of relaxation and escape from these unusual times we live in. We must face the reality that winter is just around the corner. To make sure your deck is there for you next year, you should make sure it gets through winter. Here are a few tips on how to prep your deck for winter.

1. Inspect the entire deck surface

Walk across your deck. Take note of how each board feels. Are they sturdy, bouncy, or have give? These are indicators of a bigger issue than one bad board. Spongy deck boards, most of the time, are a sign of structural damage. This could mean a deck rebuild. 

Many times, decks are in good shape except for localized board damage. This can be caused by a tree or eave that constantly drips in the same spot after rainfall or mildew caused by potted plants. When you spot areas that are beginning to rot or weaken, you will want to replace those boards. It’s important to note that damaged boards are not the same as warped or weathered boards. Hardwood decks, even when properly maintained, will age. Aging wood is not an issue until it becomes structurally unsound. If boards are slightly warping, those do not need to be addressed. 

2. Check for peeling stain or paint

Peeling paint or stain is typically easy to spot, but if you want to check for certain, use tape. Lay down a strip of tape across the deck and yank it up. If you have an issue with peeling paint, it will pull up with the tape. With peeling paint or stain, the problem is, it allows water to penetrate through to the wood. This is particularly problematic with winter snows and spring rains. 

Refinishing your deck before winter is a good idea. Before you lay down that new coat of paint however, you will need to do some prep work. You will need to scrape or sand off all the old material. This will allow your new paint or stain to adhere correctly to the wood surface. Make sure you purchase a product rated for outdoor use. 

3. Check joists

The most important part of your deck is the structure itself. Joists and posts must be in good condition to ensure your deck has the structural integrity to hold the weight of snow. The underside of a deck is highly susceptible to rot. When moisture builds up around the screws and nails holding the joists together, and it doesn’t dry out due to lack of sun, you have a prime cause of rot. When you see rot, you have a very serious issue. Joist problems are a sign you need a deck replacement. Joists, unlike deck boards, cannot be replaced. 

Following these tips will make certain your deck is prepared for the winter months. Need help with deck maintenance or design? Give Bealing Roofing & Exteriors, Inc., a call. 

Preparing Your Home for Winter

preparing your home for winter

Fall is here, and as we enjoy the striking colors of fall leaves, we must also remember that winter is just around the corner. Fall is the best time to take a bit of inventory and make some repairs to ensure your home is running at its best before the winter season hits. Use this handy checklist to make sure your home is ready before ol’ Jack Frost pays a visit!

Check the foundation for cracks

Take a close look at your foundation and the areas where masonry meets the siding. See any cracks? These are a prime area for water to infiltrate and, in the winter, freeze. Over time, water infiltration will also lead to very unhealthy mold and mildew growth. Be sure to seal these cracks with caulk. Also, check where pipes and wires enter the house. These areas were likely caulked at installation, but over time caulking can age, fail, and fall off. 

Check windows and doors

The most common area for a home to suffer heat loss is around the windows and doors. Grab that caulk gun again! If you see areas where caulk is missing, you will want to fill these areas in. 

Check the roof

Your roof is your first line of protection against the elements. A leaking roof can lead to a multitude of problems, and over time, those problems can become costly. Water damage from a leaking roof can cause deterioration of insulations, wood and drywall damage, and potentially cause damage to plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. Your first step is to inspect your roof for missing or loose shingles. Be proactive and have this done before discovering a leaky roof during a snowstorm. The best advice is to have a licensed local roofing contractor inspect your roof.

Clean gutters

As fall eventually winds down, you will want to inspect your gutters. If you live in a wooded area, this is critical. Make sure leaves are removed and nothing is clogging your gutters. This will allow winter ice and snow to properly drain as it melts. Clogged gutters lead to ice dams, which can get under your shingles and cause serious damage. 

Porch and deck maintenance

If you have a porch or deck, you can do a few things to ensure you are prepared there as well. Check to make sure handrails are secure. The last thing you want is for someone to slip, grab for a handrail, and the handrail fails. Also, make sure the stairs on decks are secure and not loose.

Following this short checklist will help you make sure your home is well protected as the winter months approach. Need help with that roof inspection? Give the roofing experts at Bealing Roofing & Exteriors, Inc., a call. 

Tips to Prepare Your Home for Storms

tips to prepare your home for storms

As the hot summer heat continues to dominate the weather pattern, we face the near-daily potential for severe weather. With the risk elevated, it’s always a good idea to make sure you are prepared for the worst Mother Nature can bring. Here are six ways to make sure your home is ready when storms or heavy rains are in the forecast.

1. Clean gutters and downspouts

As time goes by, your gutters and downspouts can become clogged with leaves and debris and grit from your shingles. Clogged gutters and downspouts prevent stormwater from being directed away from your home. Instead, water will overflow your gutters, potentially causing damage to your walls as well as foundations. If your house is beneath trees, it’s a good idea to clear gutters early. 

2. Inspect your roof

The roof of your home is the surest point of water entry. During a heavy downpour, you will quickly discover if you have a problem as evidenced by water leaking inside your home. You will want to check for broken or missing shingles as well as failing sealant and flashing around chimneys, pipes, and skylights. If you are not comfortable climbing up onto your roof, call your local roofing company to check out things for you.

3. Repair gutters and downspouts

Inspect your guttering, looking for loose, sagging, or leaking gutters. Seal up any leaks you may find with caulking. Refasten the guttering, so it is hanging against the facia correctly to promote proper rain runoff. 

4. Inspect your siding

Once a year, it’s a good idea to walk around your home, paying close attention to your siding. Check for cracks and small holes that could be entry points for water. This is also an ideal time to see if your siding is experiencing warps or bubbles due to age.

5. Weatherstrip windows

Check the weather stripping and caulking around your windows to ensure they are in optimal condition. If they need to be replaced, be sure to do so. Scrape off and replace old caulking that is shrinking away from the area it is supposed to seal. 

6. Check your sump pump

Those prone to a wet basement know just how important a reliable sump pump can be. There is nothing worse than a flooded basement. The damage that can be caused to finished basements can be particularly upsetting.

6. Consider investing in a generator

In the event of a power failure, a generator can be a huge asset, particularly during extended power outages. Portable emergency generators are available in a wide variety of sizes and can be sufficient for temporary use. If you want reliability, a whole-house standby generator is the ultimate answer. 

Following these six tips will help ensure that after the next storm blows through, your headaches will be minimal. Need some help inspecting your roof, guttering, or siding? Give us a call at Bealing Roofing & Exteriors, Inc. 

5 Easy Steps to Winterize Your Home

5 Easy Steps to Winterize Your Home

How to Winterize Your Home this Fall

Winterizing your home is one of the most important steps to make sure your living environment is comfortable through the cold months we experience in Pennsylvania and Maryland. If you have the right system in place, winterizing your home won’t take as much time as you expect and preventative maintenance is more cost-effective than having to repair or replace something in the middle of the cold.

While there are more steps you can take to thoroughly winterize your home, here are the top five that we recommend.

Schedule an HVAC tune-up.

Prior to turning on your heating system this winter, contact a trusted HVAC contractor to do a thorough inspection and cleaning. For less than $100, a contractor will do multiple safety checks including carbon monoxide, gas lines, and assure the blower and motor work properly in addition to cleaning the dust and buildup from not being in use. They will be able to share any concerns about needing to replace the furnace so you can plan in advance instead of being stuck with no heat unexpectedly.

While the contractor is at your home, ask if he can inspect the heating ducts too. Heating duct leaks can cost you significant money in energy bills during the winter. Finding and repairing leaks early will help lower these bills and keep your home comfortable.

Trim trees on your property.

If you have trees on your property, now is the best time to trim them. In PA and MD, we typically experience snow or ice during the winter. Both of these can cause tree limbs and branches to break and fall on nearby structures like your home. Trimming trees in the fall helps you avoid roof, gutter, and window damage when a storm occurs. 

Schedule a roof inspection.

A roof inspection before the winter weather arrives is crucial. Professional roofers will check your attic to make sure the insulation is adequate and assure there are no leaks in addition to reviewing your roof and gutters for signs of deterioration. The best roofing companies will also take pictures to show you areas of concern that require immediate repair or a full roof replacement.

Clean your gutters.

Gutters are an important piece of your roofing system and guide water away from your home’s foundation. Clogged gutters in the winter result in ice dams on your home’s roof which blocks any of the melt from moving down the gutters. In many instances, this backup of water leaks into your home causing damage to the interior walls, ceiling, and flooring including mold and mildew.

Check the exterior windows and doors.

Take a walk around the exterior of your home checking windows and doors for cracks, holes, and gaps that allow cold air, moisture, and pests inside. Fill these areas with new weather stripping or caulk when possible or contact a contractor that specializes in window and door replacement if necessary.

These are just a few of the steps you should take as a homeowner to prepare for the winter season this fall. What other tips do you have for homeowners?

If you need help with your roof, windows, or doors this fall, contact Bealing Roofing & Exteriors today. We service South Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland.

Spring Cleaning Checklist For Your Home

spring-cleaning-checklist-home

Check These 12 Items off Your List This Spring

Now that Old Man Winter has finally gone into hibernation, you are probably ready to use the warmer weather to tackle projects around the house.  We all know about the basics of cleaning house inside, such as dusting cobwebs, washing windows and floors, and vacuuming, etc.; however, there are more areas, both inside and out, that need attention.  Here are 12 must-do items for your spring cleaning checklist:

Inside:

 

  1. Replace air conditioner filters and make sure AC unit is free of leaves/debris.

 

  1. Replace all smoke and carbon dioxide detector batteries.

 

  1. Touch up paint on interior doors, trim, and wood.

 

  1. Repair or replace torn window and door screens and wash those not needing repair.

 

  1. Clean and organize closets and other storage areas inside your home. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn it or used it in a year, get rid of it. Have a yard sale or donate old but wearable clothing, shoes, and jewelry along with hardly used furniture and household items to a local charity or family shelter.

 

  1. Inspect the attic. Over the winter months, animals may have taken up residence in your attic away from winter weather. Check for animal nests and remove any, as well as animals, that you find. If you find holes, contact a roofing contractor to inspect and repair.

Outside:

  1. Check your roof for damaged or missing shingles. Inspect your roof for debris as well as siding, doors, and windows for dirt and/or damage. Clean and touch up with paint where needed.

 

  1. Clean gutters and downspouts. You may have cleaned out your gutters in the fall but since some leaves fall late, there may be more waiting now that winter is over.

 

  1. Sweep and power-wash your siding, decks, garage door, door fronts, and sidewalks. This will brighten up your home’s exterior and prevent deterioration. Make sure you have the correct power-wash nozzles to ensure minimal damage.

 

  1. Clean porches/entryways. Wipe away cobwebs, shake out entry mats, and clean outdoor light fixtures and porch and/or patio furniture. Also, clean outdoor trash cans.

 

  1. Stain decks, wooden porch railings, etc. If you have a wood deck or porch, check to see if it’s time for staining. Wood decks/porches with high sun exposure tend to need staining more often than those in shade.

 

  1. Landscape. Plant flowers and shrubs.  Weed and mulch flower beds. Check for tree branches that are about to fall and make sure you remove them so the branch does not drop on someone or on your home. Also, trim back any overgrowth of trees or bushes from your home to protect paint from scratches and moisture.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Ways to Save on Home Cooling Costs

cut home cooling costs

Home Cooling Costs – How to Save

Summer is just around the corner and budget-minded consumers need reliable information and resources about how to save money on home cooling costs.  Here are 5 ways to save money and keep your “cool” when temperatures soar:

Conduct an energy audit.

Check your current air conditioning system, windows, window coverings, thermostats and fans for areas where cool air can escape to the outside or heat can build up inside. Using Energy Star products throughout your home such as windows, programmable thermostats, and ceiling fans can significantly improve your comfort, energy efficiency and bottom line.

AC.

Consider replacing an old central air system (SEER-Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio- rating of 10 or less) with a new high efficiency unit (SEER rating of 14 or more)—this could save at least 33 percent on your cooling costs.  For window AC units, a CEER (Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 11 or more is most efficient.  Also, direct sunlight falling on a window air conditioning unit increases its workload, so when possible, place these units on the north or shady side of the house.

Windows & Coverings.

Consider replacing old windows with Energy Star windows through replacement window services.  Use dark or drawn blinds, shades, and thermal drapes to block sunlight during the hottest part of the day, especially on the south- and west-facing windows.

Thermostats & Fans.

Install a programmable thermostat that can be programmed to a preset temperature and schedule, so it saves you money and hassle.  Ceiling fans or circulating fans can also improve cooling efficiency.

Attic Ventilation.

Attics must be ventilated to relieve heat buildup caused by the sun. For existing homes, determine whether attic ventilation is adequate and, if necessary, improve airflow by adding or enlarging vents. Hiring a professional roofer to complete a roof inspection is a great way to make sure your attic is properly ventilated.

 Let the fresh air in.

 Open windows during the moderate weather of spring and fall for cooling instead of operating air conditioning equipment. If you live where summer nights are cool, open the windows at night, then close and turn AC on in the morning.

 Keep temperatures up.

 The higher the temperature is set on the thermostat, the more energy you save. Some energy companies like First Energy Corp suggest keeping the temperature between 70 and 75º and at 78 when no one is home.

Only cool rooms you use.

 You may not use your entire home, and cooling that extra space wastes energy and money. Closing vents and doors in unused or rarely used rooms help to save on home cooling costs.

 What’s on top matters.

 When building a home, choose light-colored roof shingles for your house to reflect more of the sun’s heat. The darker the shingles, the more heat that will be absorbed during the summer season. Consult a professional roofer if considering replacing existing shingles with new ones.

Spring Maintenance Tips

spring maintenance tips

8 Spring Maintenance Tips

Spring is just around the corner and with it comes warmer weather and longer days. We all want to enjoy the weather but it’s also a time to do maintenance around the home to ensure your home lasts and stays safe. Check out these ideas for spring maintenance:

Inspect air conditioning unit.

You may not need it right away but it’s time to get your unit(s) ready. Whether you have central air or window units, make sure filters are replaced and it’s clear of any leaves.

Inspect exterior.

Winter can be brutal with harsh weather conditions. Check your roof for damaged shingles and fix. Check siding, windows, and door screens for any damages or holes as well.

Inspect attic.

Over the winter months, animals may have taken up residence in your attic away from winter weather. Check for animal nests and remove any, as well as animals, that you find. Check for holes from animals or winter weather and fix them to continue to ensure proper ventilation and keep water out of your home.

Clean gutters.

You may have cleaned out your gutters in the fall but since some leaves fall late, there may be more waiting for you come spring. Take this time to clean them again and also check to make sure they are not pulling away from the house and that they drain properly. You may also have to replace or fix any downspouts that came off during the harsh winter weather.

Powerwash.

Winter leaves behind some gunk whether it’s in the form of debris, salt, or potential for mold from too much moisture. Powerwash your siding, decks, and sidewalks to brighten up your home’s exterior and keep your home from deterioration. Make sure you have the correct powerwash nozzles to ensure minimal damage from powerwashing.

Landscape.

Many people landscape in the spring in order to make their home look good for the summer. However, there are other benefits as well. Check for any tree branches that are about to fall and make sure you remove them so the branch does not drop on someone or on your home. Also, trim back any overgrowth of trees or bushes from your home to protect paint from scratches and moisture.

Stain decks.

Wood decks need to be stained in order to help them last longer and prevent from rot and other damage. They should be stained every 6 years especially if uncovered.

Repair driveway.

Again, this is another place that the harsh winter weather can do damage – whether it’s from water getting into cracks and icing over expanding the cracks or from using a snowblower, shovel, or plow on your driveway. Now is the time to fix these issues before they worsen.

Completing these 8 steps can help to maintain your home longer as well as keep you and your family safe in the coming season!

Ways to Save Money on Heating Costs

save money on heating

During the winter season, a major complaint and worry is the cost of heating. With many households concerned about budgets, knowing how to save on heating is beneficial. Here are 6 ways to save money on heating costs:

Keep temperatures down

The higher the temperature is set, the harder your heating system is working to keep it hot; which in turn means more energy is consumed and costs go up. Some energy companies like First Energy Corp suggest keeping the temperature at 68º or lower. Some people also turn the heat even farther down when they aren’t at home.

Insulate attic/crawl space

Heat rises and is often lost though the attic. It is important to insulate your attic to diminish the amount of heat lost. More heat kept in the home means less that your heating source has to work. Hiring a professional roofer to complete a roof inspection is a great way to make sure your attic is properly insulated.

Additionally, cold air is brought in sometimes though crawl spaces or basements causing your heat source to work harder warming the cold air. Insulating these spaces decreases the amount of cold air entering your home.

Only heat rooms you use

Some people don’t use their entire home, and heating that extra space wastes your energy and money. If possible, turning heat down (not off so pipes do not freeze and burst) in rooms unused or rarely used helps to save on cost. Make sure to close doors to these rooms or, for rooms without doors, you can partition them off with blankets or plastic.

Check for drafts

Other ways heat is lost and cold air enters the home is through drafts usually around your doors and windows. Check and replace your weather stripping on doors and windows. For the bottom of doors, you can use a towel or a specific door seal to help eliminate drafts. There are also products available to insulate your windows such as ones provided by Duck Brand. These are made to eliminate the escape of heat through windows.

Humidify

Humidity is not wanted in the summer but can be beneficial in the winter. Moisture in the air holds heat better. You can help by turning off exhaust fans when cooking and showering so that water vapor is not pulled out of your home. You can also buy a humidifier and utilize in your home.

Choose an efficient fuel source

For some people, this might be the first step or choice. However, it can be costly up front even though it can save you long term on heating. Educate yourself on the cost in your area of the different fuel sources. It may also work to combine sources such as a wood stove, fireplace, or fireplace insert for hard to heat areas if the cost of wood or wood pellets would compensate for your primary heating source overworking in that particular area.

How to Prevent & Remove Ice Dams on Your Roof

remove-ice-dams

Homeowners in Maryland and Pennsylvania are used to managing snow and ice in the winter months. While icicles in the wintertime look pretty, they are actually a sign that there is something serious happening with your home’s roof. The good news is icicles or ice dams can be avoided or fixed when you know how to fix the underlying problem.

What is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams occur when melting snow freezes into large icicles at the end of your roof, near the gutters and soffit. This ice buildup acts as a dam and prevents melting snow from properly draining off your rooftop. If not taken care of, the excess water can seep under the roof shingles and leak into your attic damaging your home’s interior.

What Causes Ice Dams

There are three necessary factors that cause dams to form. The first is snow on your roof, which is unavoidable in PA and MD. The next two factors are variations in your roof temperatures. The top peak of the roof is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit while the lower surface is below. When this happens, the snow at the top of your roof begins to melt and drain. But, when it reaches the lower temp, it freezes mid-fall causing icicles.

How to Identify a Problem

You may have a problem if you notice:

●      Large icicles hanging from your roof or gutters

●      Ice is coming through the soffit or behind the gutters

●      Water is leaking into a door or window frame

●      There is water or ice on the exterior of your home

How to Prevent Ice Dams

The underlying factors in roof temperature variations is poor ventilation and insulation in your attic. Both are things that you can fix and control with the right knowledge. To make sure this process is completed the right way, you should contact a roofing expert for help.

Proper winterization of your roof includes:

1.      Adding insulation to your attic to prevent heat from rising to the roof.

2.      Installing roof and soffit vents to allow heat to escape.

3.      Insulate lighting fixtures and stairwells to the attic to eliminate escaped heat.

4.      Plug any holes or cracks in the ceiling or drywall.

Now is the perfect time to take a look at your roof and attic because the heat is more bearable during cooler months and our first snowfall has yet to arrive. Have questions? Contact the expert roofing team at Bealing for a free roof inspection.

5 Tips to Prepare Your Roof for Winter

prepare your roof for winter

As the leaves change colors and start to fall in Pennsylvania and Maryland, there is no denying that harsh temperatures are quickly approaching. The cold temperatures will inevitably bring snow. As a homeowner, you know it’s time to start prepping your home for the winter months. Roof maintenance is often overlooked during this process. But, snow and ice are harsh elements that you need to properly prepare for in order to minimize roof damage.

Here are five steps to prepare your roof for winter from the roofing experts at Bealing Roofing & Exteriors:

Do a Roof Inspection.

Inspecting your roof is the only way to find problem areas before they cause significant damage. You can choose to do the inspection on your own or have a professional roofing company tackle the task. In many cases, roof inspections are offered at no charge to homeowners.

Check to make sure shingles are in place, there is no visible damage such as staining, no soft spots, and all ventilation is clear. It is also important to inspect flashing, which can be found around joints, chimneys, plumbing pipes or skylights. Flashing is a critical component of your roofing system because it assures water runs off your roof instead of leaking into your home or remaining on the rooftop.

Fix Leaks or Damage.

If there are roof leaks or damage, repair these immediately. In the event you need repairs, it is always best to contact an experienced roofer . Less than quality repairs can cause you greater problems and create unnecessary expenses in the middle of winter.

Remove Debris.

Sticks, leaves, and debris fall on your roof year-round. Any debris should be removed now to keep it from clogging gutters. Clogged gutters keep water from draining properly which attracts unwanted pests and creates flooding on your rooftop.

Trim Trees.

If trees line your property, it is crucial to check branches before winter arrives. Heavy snow and ice causes branches to break off and, if they are close to your home, can create roof damage. Walk around your property and remove overgrown branches from trees close to your home, outside buildings, and electrical wires.

Check Your Attic.

Proper attic insulation is an importance piece of your roof ventilation system and helps prevent ice dams during winter months. Check your attic for proper insulation in addition to signs of moisture that can help you identify roof damage early on.

The winter season brings many destructive elements that are harsh on your roof. Taking these steps before snow, ice, and storms arrive are the best way to maintain your roof and minimize damage.