Is your home well dressed?

Siding is like an overcoat for your house: It keeps the hawk of winter at bay, spring showers outside, and the effects of old Sol from turning your home into a French bread oven. Just like an overcoat, siding is chosen for its geographic location and the weather it expects to encounter. Picking the best siding to meet a home’s particular needs then, is both a function of design preferences and physical needs.

Fortunately, siding comes in many styles, colors and price ranges. When choosing siding, there will be several choices within a homeowner’s budget and sense of design. Choosing the right siding then, falls short of television commercials, but rather smack dab in the realm of the siding contractor.

A competent siding contractor can guide homeowners in making a selection that makes sense. When a homeowner picks a siding contractor, that contractor must have ample experience, understand the physical ramification of an area, and must have the applicable license, insurance and bond. He will also know how to listen to his homeowners as well as explain what’s needed to get the job done.

Professional Siding has been “dressing” Chicago’s homes for decades. Call for a list of recent homes then drive by and see for yourself. Professional help, there when you need it.

What you need to know about lead-safe renovations

If your home was constructed after 1978, your home “should” be free of lead, a heavy metal poison, but “should” is the operative word here. Have your home tested anyway!

Potential exposure to lead, especially to children and infants, is simply too dangerous to ignore. If you were born before 1968, as are a large percentage of Americans living today, chewing the paint off window sills and door jams was considered lunch. Paint was almost a food group.

How do you know if you were “exposed” to lead and in fact have lead poisoning? In the gross analysis, lead poisoning lessens intelligence, stunt growth, and impairs hearing, so without an actual blood test for lead poisoning, you’re probably not going to know.

From a parent’s standpoint, do you want to roll the dice with your children’s health at stake?

From a homeowner’s standpoint, lead test kits are readily available and relatively inexpensive, from about $12 to hundreds of dollars.

The nuts and bolts of the issue begins when Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, also known as Title X, to protect families from exposure to lead from paint, dust, and soil. Because all of us aren’t as truthful as our mothers might like, Section 1018 of this law directed HUD and EPA to require the disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978. Section 1018 is the reason to have your home, regardless of the year it was built, tested for lead contamination.

Do you know anyone who would readily and openly say their home has lead contamination when all they have to say is something to the effect, “Not To My Knowledge,” or something similar.

You are reading this because you are contemplating a renovation of your home and that can be daunting. The last thing you want to worry about is the possible health risk of some common tasks. Sanding, demolition and siding and window replacement will certainly disturb lead-based paint if its present creating a risk of lead poisoning. Because of the risk, the EPA  developed the “Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program.” The legislation requires that workers, including contractors, painters and maintenance personnel, be trained to use lead-safe work practices, and remodeling firms must be EPA-certified.

We have taken the initiative and our employees and subcontracts are trained and we are certified. Because many remodeling practices and processes may involve family health issues, we feel it’s important for you to know what our lead-safe practices are before delving into some projects.

First, what does the legislation entail?

  • Applies to all remodeling/renovation projects on homes, childcare facilities and schools built before 1978
  • Related to on-site work practices
  • Contractors and workers must take an eight-hour training course to become certified on lead-safe practices
  • It is the contractor’s responsibility to confirm all dates and pertinent information.

If you’re discussing a renovation with a contractor other than us ask to see their government-issued certificate from the EPA showing that their firm is certified in lead-safe renovation practices. If they do not provide this documentation, find another contractor. And be aware this legislation may increase the cost of some projects, so be careful not to succumb to an enticingly lower bid from a non-certified contractor.

Remember, better safe than sorry. There’s more at risk than an increase in the cost. For more information on the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program, we encourage you to visit http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadinfo.htm

Assess your home’s energy consumption

Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy is helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

Results are already adding up. Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars — all while saving nearly $18 billion on their utility bills.

Energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill with similar savings of greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing features, style or comfort. ENERGY STAR helps you make the energy efficient choice.

If looking to make larger improvements to your home, EPA offers tools and resources to help you plan and undertake projects to reduce your energy bills and improve home comfort.

Assess your home

Getting a handle on your home’s energy use is an important first step to improving efficiency. You can do a simple assessment yourself using our on-line tools, or have a professional energy auditor perform a more thorough audit. Then, use ENERGY STAR resources to get guidance on home improvement projects to enhance energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and increase comfort. Energy Star offers a home assessment on its website.

GIve Mal Graifman a call to learn how we can help you lessen your energy consumption: 847-253-9500.

Siding and insulation: What’s your number?

Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Insulation is measured by R-value, which refers to its ability to resist heat flow. The higher the number, the better the insulating power. Recommended R-values vary from area to area.

In the Chicago area, Zone 5, when replacing siding, R5-R6 insulative wall sheathing is used beneath the new siding. A properly insulated home can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

In addition to siding, look for other areas to improve energy efficiency, in particular, leaky or poorly installed windows.

Give us a call to learn more: 847-253-9500.

 

 

How to tell when you need to replace your siding

There are several reasons to replace your siding.

Aesthetics: As your home ages, its shows. What was attractive 30 years ago, may not look great now. It may be time to bring your home up-to-date visually, especially if considering selling it. Most Realtors will tell you that you should  replace your defective siding if you wish to sell your home in a timely manner and for a good price.  If you do get an offer, the buyer will almost always want a discount because of your siding.

 

Damage: If you can see fungus, seams separating, caulking failing, boards not lying flat against your house, paint issues, moisture on the inside of your house, you have damaged siding. In extreme cases you may have a condition called “dry rot.” Dry rot is a weakening of wood caused by one of several species of fungus. The fungus digests the parts of the wood that give the wood strength and stiffness. Weakened wood is typically somewhat dry, hence the name dry rot, and brittle and may have a blocky appearance. Ironically, dry rot usually results from too much moisture in contact with wood. The dry rot fungus has the unusual ability to transport water from wet areas to dry areas allowing the fungus to grow in relatively dry wood. If not stopped the dry rot fungus will so weaken wood that it may eventually disintegrate.

Energy efficiency: When installed properly, new siding with the correct R-value insulation, will significantly reduce your energy bills. A more comfortable home, with lower utility bills, is a great reason to invest in your home.

It’s not too late in the year to consider new siding. Give us a call to learn more: 847-253-9500.

Old Man Winter is coming! Are your windows ready?

How do you know if your windows should be replaced before Old Man Winter arrives?

• Cold or warm spots near windows are usually a good sign that your current windows aren’t doing their job. Place your hand on a wall near a window, move it around, and note if there is a significant temperature difference.

• Check for drafts. Hold a lit candle or burning match along the edge of each window. If the flame flickers, indicating a draft, that window is a good candidate for replacement.

• In older wooden framed windows, it’s important to check for decay or rot. This can be done by applying medium pressure against the wood with a flat blade screwdriver (not a phillips). If the wood “gives” under the pressure, it’s probably time to consider replacements.

• When condensation or ice collects on the window glass, inadequate insulation is usually the culprit. Time to call a professional!

• Windows are designed to operate within a narrow range of parameters. If they have lost the ability to open and close smoothly, or need a stick to prop them open, it’s time to replace them.

• When the weather seal, that is maintained by caulk, is lost, the window has lost its ability to keep the outside out and the inside in. Checking the caulk is easy. In the evening, after it is dark, go outside, observe the window while someone stands in the room with the lights off and shine a flashlight around the perimeter of the window. If the caulk seal is lost, the light will shine through.

Owning a home is a great pleasure but one that carries responsibilities in order to keep its value. We would be happy to visit your home and evaluate your windows. If you need replacements, we have many options to meet your needs and budget.