What Causes Ice Dams?

Considering all the potential problems that ice dams can cause, it’s surprising home-owners know so little about what causes them.
In fact, it doesn’t take much. Only three conditions must be present:
1. A Heavy Snowfall — enough to to leave several inches of snow on a roof. The more snow, the greater the potential an ice dam may form.
2. Continuously cold temperatures — A heavy snow followed by several days of 40 degree temperatures probably won’t result in an ice dam. The air temperature must remain cold enough for water to freeze. When temperatures fall below 20 degrees, conditions are especially favorable.
3. An under ventilated and poorly insulated attic, factors that create what amounts to a “hot and cold roof.”

When these conditions are in place, here’s what happens:

Heat escapes from the living quarters into the attic. The colder the outside temperature the higher the thermostat is set. The heat builds up at the upper levels of the attic, eventually warming the roof deck. Once the deck is warm, snow on the roof begins to melt. Obviously, if the sun breaks out following a snow storm, melting is accelerated.
Water runs down the roof until it reaches the area over the eaves. Since this area of the roof remains cold, the runoff from the melting snow begins to freeze and the ice dam forms (along with a more easily seen symptom of the problem, icicles hanging from gutters).
As the dam builds, it begins to trap more snow melt, extending the height of the dam. But the real problems begin when water begins to pool, backing up under the shingles. Once that happens, damage can be extensive. Damage to drywall, insulation, ceilings, electric, and paint are not uncommon. Ice Guard roofing membrane used in re roofing can help but not totaly prevent water penetration.

The best solution is prevention. Be sure your attic is heavily insulated and your attic is adequately ventilated, with both intake and exhaust, to help diminish the chances of damage from ice dams. Attic insulation and attic ventilation are your best weapons in the fight against ice dams.

Why should you think about siding your home in the winter?

siding in the winter
New siding in any season including winter is always a benefit to you. It enhances the appearance and curb appeal of your home; giving it a fresh new look, eliminates the costs of exterior maintenance and most importantly saves you big money on your energy bills. You also save money by eliminating the costs of repeated painting. Siding your home is not only something you do to have a upgrade the look, but it is the protective shell of home, keeping your entire family, cozy, safe, and warm all year around.

What are signs that I need new siding?

There are many signs that it is about time for new siding on your home. Excessive drafts coming from windows, doors, and baseboards. Things like missing caulk, fungus, buckling of siding and noticeable moisture in your home are some of the indicators that it is time for new siding. When you run into these problems, contact Professional Home Improvements for your FREE in home consultation.

What kind of siding should I have installed on my home?

There are many different options and things to consider when choosing siding. There are Fiber Cement sidings, Vinyl Sidings, Composite Material Sidings, and Accessories Galore to choose from. The style of your home, your neighborhood and your budget will play a role when deciding what siding is right for you. We here at Professional Home Improvements send an expert out to your home to answer all of your questions and help you make the right choice what’s best for you.

Can I put new siding on my home in the winter months?

Planning a project in the winter can be beneficial for you as a buyer. Schedules are more flexible, so we can do the work when it is convenient for you. The winter season is our slowest season so we lower our pricing to attract more business during our slow time. This can mean a huge savings to You the Homeowner. The job may take a few days longer due to the inclement weather but the kids are in school and not playing in the yard as much so there is less inconvenience to the family. Construction doesn’t stop in the winter, it only slows down. Why not take advantage of a lower price for the same high quality installation and enjoy energy savings this winter as well!

How much can I expect to spend on new siding for my home?

Many different factors will affect the bottom line costs of your home. The style and type of siding and the size of your home play the major role in pricing. Remember, that this investment will create immediate and long-term savings. Providing an overall savings in maintenance costs and eliminating painting costs all together.

We have just answered a few of the questions you may have when you are getting ready to side your home. Contact us at Professional Home Improvements to set up a FREE consultation where we can answer all of your questions. If you are ready for a new home on the outside, we are ready to help!

Curb appeal, appraisals affect home values

As the housing market shows improvement, many homeowners are once again considering putting their homes up for sale. If you are like many Americans, home improvement projects were put on hold for the last three years, so it’s time to reassess your home and decide what should be updated.

Real estate agents suggest that curb appeal and appraisal booster projects are the guidelines when deciding what projects to undertake before putting your home up for sale.

Curb appeal:
You can enhance curb appeal with these projects:

  • Maintain the landscaping
  • Keep up with the paintwork, both inside and outside of your home
  • Replace your home’s siding, gutters
  • Replace old window frames with wooden or energy-efficient ones

Bringing your home up to your area’s standards is important. Banks and real estate transactions all use appraisers. And appraisers use what are called “comps” or comparables. Those are similar homes in the area that sold for a certain price and then that is used to determine the market value of your home.

Appraisers have certain things they look for as key determinants of value. For example, the location of the real estate (location, location, location!), the livable square footage of a home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, if it has a fireplace, what the home is constructed out of, what it “looks” like (curb appeal), etc.

What don’t they care about? Well, they don’t care what color your living room is or what brand of kitchen appliance you have. What you want to focus on with appraisal booster projects are high ROI projects that improve the appraisal value and comps. Appraisal booster projects are home repairs that will automatically boost the appraisal of your home, such as energy-efficient windows and doors, wood flooring or the addition of a fireplace. To avoid financial loss and disappointment later, remember to always consult with a realtor or renovations expert to determine how much value planned renovations will add to your home.

Roofing in the winter?

We are often asked if a roofing job can be done in the colder winter months. Sometime roofing problems don’t wait for the warmer days of spring.

Most roofing manufacturers recommend temperatures above 40 degrees, for a number of reasons. Fiberglass shingles have a self adhesive strip that plays an important role in keeping the shingles in place, and creates an effective seal that guards against wind damage. When the temperature is too cold the adhesive isn’t as effective. Extremely cold weather also makes shingle brittle and prone to breaking, which leads to the need for more materials.

However, emergencies do occur, so sunny weather or not, if you need assistance before the warmer days arrive, don’t hesitate to call us! We are here to help!

Are you considering listing your home in 2012?

The housing market is showing signs of recovering. According to the National Association of Realtors, “new home sales will rise by 16 percent” in 2012.

Optimism is contagious. As homeowners see their neighbors and friends getting a good return on their home sales, their thoughts turn to their own home. Many who had put off listing during the past three years, will reconsider.

When listing with a reliable real estate agent, you will be advised about home improvements that will increase your home sale. Most Realtors will tell you that it is advisable to replace defective siding if you wish to sell your home in a timely manner, and to get the best price. New siding can give your home a facelift, influencing its first impression or “curb appeal.”

Give us a call to learn more.

 UPDATE: 12/29/11

(Reuters) – Pending sales of existing homes surged to a 1-1/2 year high in November, an industry group said on Thursday, offering more signs of a tentative recovery in the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in November, increased 7.3 percent to 100.1 — the highest level since April 2010.

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.