The Homeowner’s Guide To Reading Your Roof – What’s Normal And What’s Not

How to tell when your roof needs repair

Four out of five homes in the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roof. And it’s easy to see why. The wide variety of available colors and styles, combined with durability and affordability, has made asphalt shingles the leading choice for residential roofing in the country.

But, like all exterior building products, asphalt shingles start to age as soon as they are exposed to nature. Buildings experience aging factors differently, so it’s difficult to predict how long shingles will last. With storm chasers and insurance adjusters claiming roof damage or defective shingles after major weather events, it’s important for homeowners to arm themselves with information about what type of roof aging is normal, and most importantly, what type is not.

What is normal?

It’s natural for a roof to age, and the process begins as soon as shingles are exposed to nature. The sun can raise rooftop temperatures as high as 50-70 degrees above the ambient air temperature. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and heat have been shown to accelerate roof aging, as have pollution, hail, snow, ice, falling tree limbs and people walking on a roof.

Here are a few common signs of aging shingles:

Curling is a common phenomenon in some shingles and is not considered a defect. It is natural for asphalt to age and shrink with time, which may result in a slight curling of the shingle edge.

Minor cracks may also appear on the shingles as they age, but industry experts say it is a normal weathering characteristic and not cause for alarm, as long as the cracks do not penetrate through the shingle and the roof is still performing the intended purpose of shedding water.

“Minor cracks may not be noticeable from the ground, but people often spot them while hanging their Christmas lights,” said roofing industry expert Rick “the Roofer” Taylor, a longtime roofing contractor now working as a traveling trainer for shingle manufacturer TAMKO Building Products. “The intense heat from the sun can deplete some of the protective asphalt oils, and that can cause minor cracks.”

Dark brown or black streaks down the roof are common in particularly moist or humid areas of the country and are the result of algae growth on the shingles. While not particularly attractive, these stains should not affect the shingles’ ability to shed water.

Some granule loss on the shingles is to be expected, especially if a roof has been recently repaired or replaced, since extra granules are a part of the shingle manufacturing process. Loose granules are usually noticed collecting in roof gutters after the shingles are installed. This type of granule shedding is common and not a cause for concern.

What is cause for concern?

While minor curling, surface cracking, closed blisters, algae stains and some granule loss can all be signs of normal roof aging, some more serious roof wear and aging could be indicative of a potential problem and should be examined and monitored.

These roof issues may need attention:

Blisters, or small circular raised areas, are often the direct result of under-ventilated attics or excessive use of plastic cement — both of which are installation errors. If the blisters are closed and are not affecting the shingles’ performance, they are not a cause for concern. But if the blisters are open, exposing the asphalt, the roof is vulnerable to water penetration and requires immediate attention.

Buckling, a distortion of the shingles, can be a possible sign of inadequate roof ventilation, issues with the roof deck or other installation errors and may require attention.

Deep cracks that penetrate through the fiberglass mat should be investigated, as they may compromise the roof’s ability to shed water and make it susceptible to leaks.

Excessive granule loss that exposes the shingles’ asphalt layer is a reason for concern and requires immediate attention.

Armed with this basic information, homeowners should be able to distinguish between natural processes that are no cause for alarm and issues that do require attention and repair.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

5 Steps To Prepare For Natural Disasters

Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes or snowstorms, natural disasters can occur anywhere at any time. When they do, it’s often sudden, so being prepared ahead of time is key. However, only 39% of Americans are prepared for an unexpected natural disaster, according to a study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“It’s important to always follow official evacuation orders. But if you are able to remain in the home, amplifying your safety now can help you and your family keep calm during an emergency,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “Save yourself from potential stress by taking these steps to prepare for any natural disaster.”

Plan for a natural disaster. Emergency disaster drills are often conducted in schools, but rarely in the home. Plan for potential emergencies with your family before they strike. To stay safe during a tornado, for example, have your family choose a windowless safe room in your home and designate a family member to open windows. For added protection get under something sturdy, such as a heavy table, or cover your body with a mattress.

Create an emergency disaster kit. Keep a well-stocked emergency disaster kit ready at all times. Fill your kit with first aid items such as bandages, gauze, tweezers and cleansing wipes. Additionally, include a flashlight, transistor radio, a portable phone charger, extra batteries, a fire extinguisher and enough bottled water and perishable food items to last at least 72 hours.

Help protect your home and family. Natural disasters can cause long-lasting power outages and lead to a spike in carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning incidents, often because of improper generator use. It is extremely important to never leave your generator inside your home or the garage, as they are a source of CO. CO is an odorless and colorless gas, making it impossible to detect without an alarm. To protect your family from the threats of smoke, fire, and CO, consider installing a First Alert Combination Smoke and CO Alarm with a 10-year sealed battery, which eliminates the need to replace batteries for the life of the alarm. Test your alarms monthly and be sure all smoke and CO alarms have a battery backup if hardwired. Install alarms on each level of the home and near every sleeping area.

Know fire safety. Damaged powerlines, gas lines and other electrical systems pose a dangerous fire threat. If a powerline falls, don’t move or drive over it and immediately contact local authorities. Another potential danger is using candles during a power outage. Never leave any open flames unattended. In the event of a fire, a well-planned and practiced escape plan will be invaluable. To design a fire escape plan, identify multiple exits out of each room and choose a meeting spot for your family away from the home. Practice this plan at least twice a year.

Store your valuables safely. Important documents such as insurance papers, birth certificates, and passports are necessary when dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, so be sure they are safely stored. For maximum security, protect these documents as well as any family heirlooms or prized possessions by storing them in a waterproof and fire resistant safe.

“Being prepared for extreme weather often isn’t on a homeowner’s mind until it’s too late,” said Wey. “Make safety a priority in your home by planning for any natural disaster so that your family and your property are as protected as possible.”

For more information, visit www.firstalert.com

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

5 Smart Ideas To Refresh Your Deck

As the seasons turn, your focus begins to shift to the outdoors. Your deck or patio becomes your new living room — an ideal setting for memorable moments with friends and family. If you look at these spaces and long for a refresh, the time to start planning is now. You have options, and many you can do yourself with minimal effort.

To start, if you don’t have a deck or patio, research materials carefully before making an investment. One prevalent building trend involves making the smart choice toward natural, environmentally friendly materials that will never end up in landfills. As such, more homeowners are choosing Real Cedar because it is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects. It’s low-maintenance and easy to work with, being durable yet lightweight, laying straight and taking fasteners easily. Plus, nothing looks, feels or smells quite like cedar.

To refresh your deck with style and functionality, consider these five-trending outdoor-living projects:

Planter boxes: If you want to add beauty and functionality to your deck, construct planter boxes and put them in sunny spaces. From small boxes that house herb gardens to larger boxes that allow vegetables to thrive, you can have a bounty of fresh flavors right outside your door. No need for a garden plot! Planter box designs come in a variety of sizes and can be built low to the ground or at waist height for easy tending.

Outdoor sectionals: Built-in sectionals are becoming a focal point and favorite hangout spot on the deck. Perfectly set into a corner, these multi-directional couches can be built as large or small as you desire. Use Real Cedar for your project because it is pitch- and resin-free, so accepts and holds a wide variety of finishes beautifully so you can customize the look to your tastes. Finish with cushions for that decorator touch and you’ll have your new favorite cozy outdoor corner.

Water features: As homeowners look to make their decks and patios a true retreat from the stress of everyday life, they want to add elements of Zen, which is why fountains and water features are becoming so popular. New decks are often built to incorporate these features, including pathways where water provides a calm ambiance. If a pond is too significant an undertaking, fountains provide a more affordable alternative that can be used in any size space.

Pergolas: These beautiful semi-shelters can be built in a number of useful configurations depending on how much shade you require, what you wish to situate beneath it (A dining set? Outdoor couches and chairs? Grilling equipment?) and whether you want to incorporate climbing plants. For complete project plans and instructions on how to make your own pergola over a weekend, visit www.realcedar.com.

Lighting: When the sun goes down that doesn’t mean the fun should stop. Add lighting to extend the functionality and enjoy special moments under the stars on your deck or patio. Stair, railing and pathway lighting add a necessary safety feature, while under-table lighting and deck-post sconces provide the perfect illumination for the space without being overwhelming. For a touch of twinkle, add a few outdoor string lights in white, or for a more festive atmosphere, go for the color of your choice.

These five outdoor living ideas are sure to enhance any size deck or patio space. Make plans today so you can enjoy many seasons of fun outdoors with loved ones.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

9 of the Biggest DIY Flooring Mistakes Homeowners Make

Installing new floors is a great way to update the look of your home while adding fresh appeal. While style and design are key components of the decision-making process, homeowners often neglect other areas that should be taken into consideration. Whether you choose hardwood, vinyl, or laminate flooring, be sure to do your research, especially if you’re planning to do it yourself. Otherwise, the cheapest flooring options can become more costly in the long run.

Here are 9 tips to help you avoid common flooring mistakes.

  1. Overestimating DIY Skills

While DIY projects can reduce overall project costs, many homeowners don’t have the advanced skills required for the installation. Poor installation may lead to countless problems down the road and can be quite costly. First, it is important to understand the complexity of the installation project. Flooring manufacturers’ websites offer DIY skill level information for each flooring type or a certified flooring retailer can provide information on the difficulty with installation. Second, be honest about your DIY abilities and, if needed, consider hiring a professional installer.

  1. Underspending on “Cheap” Flooring

Everyone likes a good bargain and finding attractive flooring at a low price can feel like hitting the jackpot. However, the old saying “you get what you pay for” often rings true with flooring. Be sure to have a good understanding of the floor’s construction, especially if it’s being placed in high-traffic or moisture-prone areas such as the kitchen or bathroom. Lower quality flooring is prone to scratches, scuffs, and stains. Purchasing flooring that is well made will keep your floors looking new longer and is worth the additional up-front investment.

  1. Failing to Research Prior to Installing

Be sure to look at the whole picture before selecting your flooring. Does the room you are installing the flooring in need enhancements such as mold and trim? Will you need a transitional piece between rooms? Is a subfloor needed? Be sure you have an understanding of these potential necessities, so you can install your flooring properly the first time.

  1. Preparing the Subfloor Incorrectly

After removing your old flooring, it’s critical the subfloor is properly prepared. The subfloor should be smooth, flat and dry. Taking the time to correctly prep your subflooring will help to ensure proper installation while increasing the longevity of your floor.

  1. Measuring Incorrectly

As the saying goes, measure twice, cut once. This wise advice is sometimes overlooked when prepping for new flooring. Homeowners should pay extra attention if they’re planning on installing flooring themselves, so they don’t end up ordering too much or not enough.

  1. Using Products that are Not Recommended for Installation

With any installation, you’ll need certain products to make sure the floor is properly installed. Depending on the type of flooring you’re installing, you may need adhesives, tile trowels, seam treatments, or grout. Be sure to read the manufactures installation guide for a list of necessary tools and products. This is also not an area to take shortcuts since buying less expensive products can result in an inferior installation.

  1. Not Considering Moisture and Humidity

Moisture is a commonly overlooked factor in DIY flooring, especially in hot and humid areas. Moisture and humidity can cause wood flooring to warp, leaving it looking way different than when you installed it. Be sure not to install the boards too close together so they have room to expand. If in doubt, consult with a professional.

  1. Ignoring the Manufacturer’s Recommended Care Instructions

Different flooring types require different cleaning methods. Be sure to carefully read the cleaning and maintenance instructions for your flooring type. For example, using a steam mop on wood or laminate flooring could cause long-term water damage and is something you definitely want to avoid.

  1. Disregarding Maintenance Recommendations

Much like your car, your floors need to be properly maintained to extend their longevity. Improper maintenance of your flooring can lead to unnecessary wear and tear and can even void your warranty if you use a product that is not recommended for your floor type. You can find this information on the manufacturer’s website or by calling their customer service hotline.

Follow these tips when purchasing your flooring and you’ll avoid the headaches of poor installation and improper maintenance, so you can receive the maximum enjoyment from your home improvement investment.

Author bio: Jennifer Karami is a writer at Redfin, a technology-enabled real estate brokerage whose mission is to redefine real estate in the customer’s favor.