Preparing your Deck for the Summer

It’s that time of the year again, time to start preparing your deck for the summer. As the weather warms up, and the days get longer, we all prep to spend some time outside. If you own a deck, it’s time to get it prepped and ready. Here are some things you can do to make your deck summer-ready.

Inspect Deck

First step in preparing your deck for summer is the initial inspection. After all the snow has melted, clear anything you stored on the deck. While running an inspection on the deck. Check to see what damage it’s accumulated over the winter. Make sure it is still structurally sound for usage.

Fix Up

After your initial check, if your deck isn’t structurally sound, hire a professional to fix it. If it is structurally sound but has some wear here and there, then those are usually some quick fixes that you can do on your own.

Wash up

Clear off any remaining items on the deck to prep it for cleaning. Depending on how dirty your deck looks, you can do a variety of cleaning methods. If your deck only has some debris, you can do with a light cleaning. Sweep off the debris, then give it a quick wash with a hose.

However, if your deck has grime caked on, you’re going to need a deep cleaning. Gently scrub with a sponge at the grime and hose it down. If needed use a power washer. Be sure to use a cleaner that won’t strip your sealant.

You want to wash your deck before it gets too warm outside. Washing it in the summer can stress the wood[1].

Staining and Sealing

Staining your deck is the final step in preparing your deck for the summer. Don’t stain or seal if you don’t need to. However, if the staining has been stripped or grime has seeped deeply, you might need to re-stain to restore luster to your deck. After staining, apply a sealant.

After all of that, your deck will be ready to be used. Get your grill ready, arrange the furniture, maybe add some lights and enjoy the summer on your deck.

[1] https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/simple-steps-to-get-your-deck-ready-season

How to Clean Your Window Screen

As the weather begins to warms up, it’s time for some spring cleaning. While cleaning, don’t forget about your window screens. Window screens can build up with a lot of dust and pollen over the months. A dirty window screen diminishes the clean look you want your windows to have.

Not sure where to begin when cleaning your screen? Here are some tips to help you along.

Remove Screen

First, remove the screen. It is easier to clean when removed than trying to clean it while it is installed. You can take them out one at a time to clean. If you prefer to take all the window screens out at the same time, make sure to label them so you know which one goes back where.

Vacuum and Dust Screen

You want to remove loose debris and dirt before soaking. Use a duster to remove dust. Using the soft brush attachment, vacuum both sides of the screens lightly.

Soak in Soapy Water

Mix some dish soap or liquid all-purpose clean with ½ a gallon of water. Soak your screens to dislodge grime that has built up over the months. Scrub gently with an old toothbrush or rug.

Rinse & Dry

Once you’ve removed all the dirt and grime out, rinse the screens down with a hose. Rinse thoroughly then let it dry. Make sure it’s dried completely before reinstalling. If you took all the screens out at the same time, the labels you made should help reinstall them properly.

Cleaning your window screens should always be a part of your spring maintenance routine. For more tips on DIY Home Improvement, check out our other blogs.

Preparing for a Roof Replacement

Congratulations! You’ve taken all the necessary steps to get a new roof. Your contractor will be showing up in a few days to start working. But how do you prepare? How do you get ready? Here a few things you can do to be ready for your roof replacement.

Keeping kids and pets safe

When your is roof is under construction, there will be a lot of banging and debris everywhere. Your home becomes a work zone and it’s important to keep your kids and pets safe. The loud noises might startle your dogs or little kids. Your house might also be unsafe while the roof is under construction. Teach your kids to stay away from certain areas of the house where contractors may have ladders or tools laying around.

If possible keep kids and pets out of the house during the day. If you can, stay with family or friends until the completion of the project.

Remove loose objects from wall

All the banging might shake your walls a bit. Remove objects and pictures hanging on the walls directly under the roof. Removing them will prevent them from falling and breaking. Remove anything that isn’t permanently secured.

Make room for the workers

Your roofing contractors are going to need easy access to their tools and trucks. It would be ideal to clear your driveway for them to park in. They will also need a place to put a dumpster to clear debris and the old roof into.  Keep your vehicles a safe distance away from the work zone.

Move outdoor furniture

If you have outdoor furniture or a grill that will be in the work zone, move them. Moving them out of the way reduces the chance of them getting damaged or being in the way of the workers.

Prune & Trim Trees

Trim any trees or branches that are near the roof. Any branches that hang low near the roof can get in the way of your contractor.

Do all of these including suggested things from your contractor and your home will be ready for your roof replacement.

Haven’t found the right contractor for your roof replacement yet? We can help! Get a free estimate on a roof replacement today!

Signs It’s Time For a New Roof

Not sure when the right time is for a new roof? Check out these signs your roof shows when it’s time for a replacement.

It is leaking

If your roof is leaking or has a hole in it, it is time for a new one.  Some leaks can be repaired but typically, you want to replace the whole thing to avoid further damage down the line. When patching one hole, you might miss water damage or hidden leaks. Besides water damage, a leaking roof can cause mold or mildew to grow in your home.

It is old

The lifespan of your roof will vary based on the roofing material. If you know what your roof is made off, find out when it was installed to determine if it’s time for a replacement. Asphalt can last up to 25 years, and cedar shake can last up to 50 years.  These numbers are based off proper care and ventilation of your roof. Other issues like algae, leaks or even trauma to the roof might be a cause for replacement.

Broken or loose shingles

Loose or cracked shingles are a sign that it’s time for a replacement. Sometimes your shingles might just look curled or buckled. This is as a result of moisture in the attic pushing the nails and shingles up.  Whether broken, curled or loose, shingles that aren’t in their original form make your home vulnerable. They make it easier for outside elements to enter your home. For example, rain leaking into your attic.

Algae on roof

Have you noticed black streaking, or algae on your roof? Algae is bacteria eating away at your shingles. As the algae continue to eat at your roof they weaken the weatherproofing properties.

Ice Dams

Icicles and ice dams are another sign it may be time for a new roof. Sometimes the problem can be attributed to inefficient gutters but the roof plays a role as well. If you have ice dams it means your roof isn’t getting proper ventilation or adequate insulation.

Does your roof have one or more of these signs? Don’t wait till it’s too late, Get a free estimate for a roof replacement on us!

Pet-Friendly Home Remodeling

Home remodeling serves the purpose of making your home better and more comfortable for you and your family. If you’re a pet lover like us, you consider your pets a part of the family too. As a result, it’s only natural to consider remodeling ideas that will help make your home safe and comfortable for your pet.  Here are a few remodeling ideas that help make life easier for you and pet.

Bathing Station

Want to give your dog a bath a home instead of going to the groomers? A walk-in the shower will make it easier if you have a larger dog. Having a handheld showerhead will also make it easier to rinse off your dog. You can also have a bathing station installed outside, attached to your home for baths and rinse-offs on warmer days.

Pet Storage

Adding pet storage makes life easier for you too. It allows you to keep all your pet’s items in one location. Towels, clothes, leashes, toys and more can all be kept in here. You can build in various compartments to separate the various items. You can place the storage where it’s easily accessible. Additionally, you can have more than one in your home. You can have one near your home’s entrance for outdoor supplies. This will make it easier to just grab and go when taking your dog out.

Feeding Area

Keep food bowls out of the way by creating an area for it. You can create a space where food and water bowls can come out for meal times and then be concealed after meal time.  This helps keep bowls out of sight for a tidy space and you’ll be less likely to trip on bowls walking back and forth.

Enclosed Patio

Most pets like to catch some rays and enjoy a bit of fresh air. If you can’t trust your furry friend to run out and come back home, an enclosed patio or porch can come in handy. An enclosed patio allows them to perch and stretch around in the sun, it also allows you to enjoy your view all year round.

Ramps

Have an aging pet? As your pet ages it might be more difficult to navigate stairs. Building a ramp can help get up and down. They can also help your pet get up on the couch (if they are allowed), since jumping might be harder for them with age.

A comfortable and happy pet, helps keep you happy too.

The Credibility of Online Review Sites

The popularity of online review sites has risen hand in hand with the growth of the internet. They make it easier to gauge how good a company might be before you get their services. Whether it’s looking for a new restaurant or searching for a contractor to redo a deck, we’re inclined to go online to find out what past customers thought.
 
Unfortunately, like everything else related to the internet you can’t trust everything thing you read. Online reviews are usually left by honest customers looking to share their experience. Yet, the ease of posting reviews means disgruntled employees as well as competitors can leave untrue reviews on a company’s review page to drive down their ratings, despite the fact they may be worthy of your business.
 
The Good
Let’s take our company, for example, we have an A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with over a hundred reviews and thousands of customers. We hold a Top Rating with Angie’s List with a ton of reviews and award-winning customer service. We currently have 4.5 Stars on Google (out of 5).
 
The Bad
 
Now you’re thinking, what about Yelp? This brings me to the 2 review sites with unusual practices to say the least.
 
Yelp has a supposed algorithm that they claim filters out unreliable reviews while allowing what they claim are the real ones. As most business owners have come to find, this is untrue. They have filtered out all the 5-star reviews our customers have sent in. You can only see them when you click the link called unreliable reviews. Real people, real names and faces we have actually done business with, many of which are on our website giving testimonials in their own words.
 
Yet, Yelp’s algorithm allows the posting of reviews from people in states we’ve never worked in. There are reviews up there from people that we’ve never done business with. Sound suspicious?  We thought so too. Our company has contacted Yelp many times to complain and they have no interest in hearing any of it. They stand by their algorithm. Our CEO reached out recently and the representative hung up him on when he inquired about the reviews from people who aren’t customers.
Conclusively
As a result, if you go on Yelp, we are one star and the worst companies in the world. If you go on every other legitimate site, we are top rated. Now, Yelp calls us quite often to ask if we want to advertise. You can go online and google “Yelp scam” or any other similar description. You’ll see claims from countless businesses who say they’ve hurt, all throughout the country. Does that sound like a good way to vet a company? Nope.
 
Additionally, Rip-off report is another scam site that acts in a very similar manner as Yelp. The BBB is customer centered and doesn’t do it for the money. Home Advisor and Angie’s List are reliable and considered honest review sites. Google reviews are fair. The others ask for payment. Plain and simple.
 
Be aware. Here’s another thing to consider, if you put up a one star review on Yelp for a company, it shows up immediately. But a 5 star review gets taken down within a matter of a couple of days or doesn’t make post at all. Try it, let us know what happens.
 
Do you have any Yelp horror stories? Let us know in the comments below!

DIY Home Repairs

There are a lot of common home repairs out there that people often think only professionals can handle. Before calling up a professional and spending your money, take a look at our list of easy-to-fix DIY home repairs.

Clean faucet aerator

Water not coming out the way it’s supposed to? Your faucet’s aerator screen may be dirty or clogged. You don’t need a professional to clean out the screen. Make sure the sink’s drain plug is closed, then use a rag to screw the aerator open.

Unclog toilet

Nothing worse than a clogged toilet that you can’t unclog with the plunger. Before you grab the snake, grab some dish soap. Pour in about half a cup of liquid dish soap and let it sit. The soap will help everything slide through much easier when you flush[1].

Cover-up ceiling stain

Water stains on the ceiling can be tough to hide without painting the whole ceiling. If the stain is isolated, you can use a spray on product, Upshot by Kilz. This works by matching an aged ceiling and sprays vertically. This way you can just stand and spray up. Just make sure to cover up the walls with plastic and put a cloth on the floor.

You can also try to bleach water stains to reduce how prominent the stains look. Just make a bleach solution with water. Spray the spot and wait a few days for it to fade.

Loose shower head/pipe

Got an unsteady shower head or wobbly pipe? Easy fix, all you need is some expanding foam.

Sticky lock

Are your keys sticking in the lock? Don’t give up on it yet. You can fix it with a pencil. You can rub pencil graphite on the teeth of the key. When you insert the key it will distribute the coating on the lock. This will help the key glide much more smoothly.

Squeaky Door

A door that’s sticking or squeaking, when opened or closed, can be very annoying. An easy less messy way to get rid of the squeak is some petroleum jelly. Just rub some on the hinges and that should help with the squeak.

Do you have other DIY home repair tricks up your sleeve? Share them with us in the comments!

[1] https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/diy-home-improvement/10-minute-house-repair-and-home-maintenance-tips/view-all/

Home Improvement Scams to Avoid

Scams are unfortunately increasing over the years. We all know someone who has either been scammed or been targeted with a scam. The Better Business Bureau showed over 45,000 reported scams in 2018, and those are just the reported ones[1], there were likely many more that went unreported.  The home improvement industry is not immune to scams. Here are some common home improvement scams to look out for and avoid.

Storm Chasers

Not the storm chasers you’re thinking about. Unlike traditional storm chasers, the ones we’re talking about show up after a storm has hit. Home improvement storm chasers or disaster chasers, show up to areas affected by natural disaster to offer their services. These scammers show up and offer cheap and quick services to fix whatever damage your home suffered. After storms, reputable companies are probably very busy and have long lines, so they take advantage of your desperation to do shoddy work. They disappear before you even realize they’ve done more harm than good.

Free Mold Check

Someone shows up at your door and offers to give you a free mold check. Don’t let them in, unless you’ve consulted and specifically set an appointment for a mold check. What usually happens is they offer free mold testing and when you let them in, they always find some mold whether you actually have mold or not. They would offer to fix it for you immediately.  No homeowner wants to be living with mold so you’re more likely to agree to the same-day fix. These scam contractors usually will cause damage instead of actually fixing anything and then disappear with your check before you’re realized the damaged caused.

In some cases, the person is not a contractor at all but rather a burglar wanting to take a closer look into your home. So, remember to be cautious with this and only do a mold inspection with a reputable company that you set an appointment with.

Leftover supplies

These scam contractors show up at your house and claim they have some leftover supplies from a previous job in your neighborhood. They will offer you a discount on the labor and supplies to work on your home. Trusty companies and contractors usually don’t roam trying to find a customer to sell their extra supplies too. Additionally, most contractors know how much is needed for a job and order the right amount. Leftover supply contractors are more likely to do a shoddy job or just take your money and disappear.

Permit Avoidance

If a contractor or company ever suggests not getting a permit for a job that requires one, run. This is a big red flag. This means they don’t want anyone taking a closer look at the job they’re doing. Which means they might be doing a shoddy job. Never cut corners, don’t hire unlicensed or uninsured contractors. If you do, you’ll be paying a bigger price down the line.

Always get everything in writing. From the number of supplies, exact costs, liability, to timeline of the job, verbal agreements are never enough. Make sure you’re covered always, and always do your research before hiring a contractor. Read our blog for more on how to hire the right contractor for your project.

[1] https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us

Roofing Terms Simplified

Searching for a roofing contractor can be stressful enough on its own. Add in complicated roofing terms and it gets confusing. Confusion about the terms makes it difficult to understand what you’re getting. Aggregate? Weep holes? Not sure what any of these mean? No worries! That’s why we’re here. We’re going to simplify it all to make your search for a new roof easier.

Terms:

Aggregate – A roofing system surfacing that’s made from crushed stone or rocks or gravel.
 
Base Sheet – An asphalt or coated felt used as the base for a built-up roofing system.
 
Bitumen – A black sticky mixture, also known as asphalt.
 
Butyl – Rubber-like material used in making sealants, coatings, and adhesives for roofing[1].
 
Cap sheet – A waterproofing membrane added to the base sheet using an open flame.
 
Double Graveling – The application of two layers of gravel in hot bitumen.
 
Eaves – The part of the roof that hangs over the walls of your home. It is the edges of the roof. Gutters are generally installed on the edges of the eaves.
 
Rafters – Support frame attached to a roof deck.
 
Ridges – Where the roof lines intersect at the highest points. On the ridges you will find shingles.
 
Single-Ply Roofing – This is a roofing system with a single-ply membrane.
 
Soffit Ventilation – A vent that allows fresh air in through the attic. The eaves of the roof contain the soffit.
 
Underlayment – Your roof’s base layer that is between the roof deck and the shingles. It is usually waterproof or water resistant. This all depends on the quality and type of the underlayment[2].
 
Weep Holes – Found along the top ridge of the roof, these holes help get rid of any absorbed water.
 
Wind Uplift – Displacement of a roof’s shingles due to wind pressure.
 
 

Winter Home Survival Guide

Winter is finally here and snow is not too far away. Check out these tips to make sure your home pulls through the winter in one piece.

Gutter Cleaning

Ideally, your gutters should be cleaned out in the fall to avoid debris overflow. Before the first heavy snow hits it important to clean debris out of your gutters. When the snow melts it needs to go somewhere. A clean gutter allows the melted snow to flow easily. If your gutter is filled with debris, you risk melted snow and water running behind the gutters and leaking into your walls. Water leaking into your walls can lead to mold growth.

Proper Snow removal

Heavy snow can be overwhelming for a roof, especially when it piles on after many snow storms. It is only logical to try and remove some of that burden by getting rid of some of the snow yourself. However, when removing snow off your roof, it has to be done correctly or else you risk damaging your roof or possibly even hurting yourself.

You want to invest in a snow rake for this, they’re available in most hardware stores. When removing snow, take off a few inches at a time[1]. Don’t dive straight into trying to scrape the roof clean in one go. Remove icicles from the edge of the roof and make sure your gutters are clean. Avoid stepping on the roof if you can. If going on the roof can’t be avoided, hire a professional or always have another person with you as you work.

Attic Insulation to prevent Ice Dams

Before the winter hits its peak make sure your attic is properly insulated. You want it to be comfortable but you don’t want your attic getting too warm either. A really warm attic causes snow to melt at high points on your roof and freezing back up as icicles and ice dams. Ice dams can block your gutters and cause water damage to your home. If your attic is getting warm enough to melt snow in freezing temperatures then you’re probably losing heat and money. It’s important to have a professional take a look at your attic if this is the case.

These are just a few of many ways you can make sure your house makes it through the winter in one piece.

For more home improvement tips, check out our other blog posts.

[1] https://www.mass.gov/service-details/roof-collapse-and-snow-removal-safety-information