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.

Energy Tax Credit for 2014

Energy Tax Credit for 2014

Energy Tax Credit
The Energy Tax Credit for 2014 can give you up to 500 reasons to buy energy efficient products. If you are thinking about buying new windows or siding for your home, buying energy efficient products will give you an immediate return on your taxes and a long term return on your bills.

The Energy Tax Credit for 2014 allows you up to $200 for windows and skylights and up to $500 for patio doors, with a credit limit of $500. If you are siding your home, using energy efficient insulation will also allow you to take advantage of a $500 tax credit.

Uncle Sam will allow you to claim 10% of the supplies costs excluding the labor for installing energy star rated products. It’s a winning situation for you as a home owner. It may not seem like a huge return because you are paying more money to buy energy star products but you need to look at the bigger picture. Energy efficient products soon pay for themselves; lower monthly utility bills over the lifetime of the purchased products will more than offset a higher purchase price of energy star rated goods.

If you are looking for more information about buying energy efficient products and the 2014 Energy Tax Credit, energystar.gov is a great resource. You can access the forms you will need to submit along with your taxes.

Saving energy is good a way to look out for the environment. Every little bit helps. We here at Professional Home Improvements offer you many options when it comes to buying energy efficient products. Call and set up an appointment to start saving money today.

*Note that New Construction and rentals do not qualify for the 2014 Energy Tax Credit. The qualifying house must be your primary residence.

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.


What happens when siding fails and isn’t replaced in a time manner? The cost clock start ticking. The longer you wait, the more expensive the replacement becomes.

Not only does failed siding open your home to all manner of weather (rain, snow, ice = water everywhere), and insect damage, it delivers a blow to your home’s market value should you decide to sell or use as collateral in a re-financing package. Further, your relationship with your neighbors, who will also be affected by a lower market values, can become strained.

Homeowner sometimes elect to turn damaged or missing siding into do-it-yourself weekend projects. This is a cost savings IF the homeowner has the knowledge, tools and materials, but more often than not, the savings evaporates when any of those three elements is lacking. Matching existing siding is an art unto itself for which the weekend carpenter is ill equipped.

We have the experience, know-how, tools and siding and resources to fix and match existing siding. A call will bring one of our factory trained professionals to your home for a consultation. Save your valuable weekends for time with the family or serious man-cave down-time!

No scandals in our background!

Cover up (noun)

1. any action, stratagem, or other means of concealing or preventing investigation or exposure.
We don’t believe in cover-ups. We don’t install new siding over old siding. Mold can be thriving under old siding. Insects may have a cozy home lurking below the surface. A wide range of structural issues could be just out of sight.
And because we remove the older siding before installing new siding, it gives us the perfect opportunity to install insulation, which many homes do not have. This added protection greatly improves energy savings, makes your family more comfortable year ’round and increases your home value when it comes time to sell.
As the old saying goes: “Be a job, big or small, do it right, or not at all.” Give us a call and find out how we can save you heating and cooling costs, improve your comfort and add value to one of your largest investments.

The Windy City: Chicago is not always gentle on your home!

While we love living in our beautiful area, the weather can take its toll on our homes. Obvious weather damage includes wind and hail.

The impact of hail on a home is immediately obvious: it can dent some types of siding, rip holes in roofs, and even break windows. Wind can work its way behind siding at the seams and pull panels away from the home, rip off shingles and cause tree branches to break windows.

Your first call should be to your insurance agent. Your second call should be to us. The sooner repairs can be made, the less severe the damage will be. Left unattended, water can enter your home, exacerbating the damage done. Mold can form, which is a health risk.

The next time the Windy City howls, check your exterior and give us a call if you notice any damage.


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.

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.