Watch this video to find out how to protect your home from weather related damage, including:
- How to inspect and clean a roof.
- Repair and maintenance of metal roof flashing.
- How to repair and replace roof shingles.
- Replacing a damaged roof vent jack.
- How to grade your lot for proper drainage.
- Cleaning gutters and downspouts.
- How to protect windows from wind damage.
- Reinforcing a garage door to prevent wind damage.
- Portable generator safety tips.
Read episode article to find out more.
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re taking on Mother Nature. OK, maybe not taking on, but we’re going to do what we can to help you and your home be prepared for what she’s dishing out. Stay with us.
As a homeowner, you have a lot of things to worry about, interest rates, insurance, resale values. Well, there’s a lot of things that you just don’t have a whole lot of control over. Nowhere is that more true than the effect the weather has on your home. Well that’s what we are digging into this week, give you some information to help you handle whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
Now, one of the biggest complaints you hear about when you own a home is the effect that rain has on it. And if you get roof leaks, you’ve got a lot of problems. And, of course the roof is your first line of defense against any of those kind of problems. Now, it doesn’t matter if you live in an older home like this, or a brand new home, it makes a lot of sense to occasionally inspect the roof. Now, if you are not up to climbing up on the roof, and a roof like this is fairly steep. Not very safe to travel around on, you can do a pretty good job inspecting your roof from the ground using a pair of binoculars.
Now, one of the biggest complaints you hear about… leaks around a chimney. And it can get a little complicated when you look at how a chimney is made. But what you want to look for is any cracks in the mortar, particularly where the flashing is embedded into the mortar joints. If you seen any cracks at all, those need to be sealed up using a masonry caulk.
If you see any damage to the flashing itself, then you can put a little band aid repair on it by using a urethane caulk. But you do need to get a roofer to determine if the flashing needs to be replaced. Well, that’s a little more complicated than the rest of the roof. And there are other repairs that you can handle yourself.
As they age, asphalt shingles can become more brittle and less flexible. That means that if they’re blown upwards by strong wind, they may break instead of snapping back afterwards. Each of these tabs is actually only a third of a complete shingle. And if possible, it is best to replace the whole thing, instead of just one tab.
To do this you will need to lift up the tabs of the damaged shingle, and the ones above it so that you can remove the nails. Once the damaged shingle is free you can replace it with a new one of a similar color and style. Don’t forget to replace the nails from the course above when you nail in the new shingle and cover any nails or nail holes with a glob of roofing cement. It is not a bad idea to stick the tabs down with a little of this sticky stuff.
Roof jacks around plumbing vents can simply wear out over time, but sometimes they get a little help from neighborhood squirrels who like to sharpen their teeth on the lead sleeves. Replacement is the best solution here, and that begins with removing the shingles that lap over the vent base so that you can take off the damaged vent and replace it with a new one of the same size. Nail down the upper side of the vent base and replace the shingle above it. If the shingle is damaged you’ll have to notch a new one to take its place.
The valleys where two planes of a roof meet often catch leaves and debris. When they do, the flow of water is slowed down. That can create a damming effect and force the water back up under the shingles. So it is important to keep these areas clear. Sometimes these valleys are covered with metal and if they lose their coating and begin to rust, a leak won’t be far behind. A scraper or a wire brush will remove the rust, but you will also want to clean the metal so that you can recoat it with a rust inhibiting paint to protect the metal. Taking a little care to mask the shingle will go a long way in making the roof look better from the street.
Joe Truini: You know we talk all the time on this show about the importance of keeping your gutters clean and here’s a perfectly good example why. This might be an extreme example, but it does show what can happen if you do not keep them clear—the downspouts and the gutters.
Now in this case the leaves piled up, they held in water, the water created a perfect breeding ground for a nice dandelion garden, we have some trees growing. The side of the house you see has some old vines growing up the side. So this just goes to show if you neglect it long enough what can happen. If you have to come up and start pruning your gutters, you have let it go too long.
So at least once a year, come up and clean the gutters. These should be free running and clear. Clean the gutters, the downspouts as all. Because if you don’t, water can back up, it can rot the fascia, peel the paint off. Water can work its way up the shingles and drain into the ceiling below and then you have to repair the ceiling and do some interior work. So again, once a year clear the gutters, and you will not have this kind of problem at your house.
Danny Lipford: When gutters fill up like that they just don’t work properly. And what happens when it rains, the water will spill right over the gutter and land right beside the house. And the last thing you want is for the soil around your house to get saturated with water, because it can force the water into your foundation wall. And that’s really a problem if you have a basement down below.
Now, there’s a few things you can do as far as waterproofing paint and sealants on the inside of your basement wall which helps sometimes. And a more extreme measure would require you to have a professional dig out all the way around the house and put a waterproofing membrane, but there is one thing that you can do that might just solve the problem and it is a lot simpler.
The main thing is to make sure that all of the ground around your home is sloping away from the house. A six-inch slope in a 10-foot span all the way around the house can help a lot. Also, make sure when you are doing landscaping outside, you don’t do what happened here. You can see how this is actually a dam that is keeping the water up against the house. The water cannot flow away, that can cause a lot of problems with water seepage as well as foundation settling.
Hey, let’s check back in with Joe who has a really Simple Solution on finding a roof leak in your home.
Joe Truini: A brown ugly stain on the ceiling is a sure sign that you’ve got a roof leak. The challenge is finding where the water is entering the house. Now, I have discovered a leak downstairs. There is a stain on the ceiling, but it was down near the wall. I came up into the attic and I looked around and I notice this all looks perfectly clean and dry. But the more I investigated, I discovered that we have a leak right here.
If you look closely, you see there is a stain, a pretty big stain too, on both sides of this rafter. So what was happening is, water was leaking through the roof, running down the top of this rafter, but it wasn’t leaking, dripping off and leaking onto the ceiling until it got down here. That is the reason I found the stain near the wall.
So the point is, when you have a leak and you see the stain on the ceiling, the leak in the roof might not be directly above it. In fact it seldom is. So the thing to remember is to come up into the attic and investigate areas all around, especially higher up on the roof plain.
Now the best time to check it out is of course during a rainstorm. But if you can’t do that, have a friend or neighbor get outside with a garden hose and soak the roof while you stay up here with a flash light and look around and I’m sure you will find that leak yourself.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at the weather and the impact it can have on your home. And we have already looked at rain and how it can enter your home from up above as well as down below. But when the weather really gets nasty, that’s not the only thing you have to worry about.
High winds can wreak havoc on your home, but usually it is not just the wind you have to worry about. It’s whatever the wind is slamming against your house—windows, doors, siding, everything. But this house is located less than a mile from the coast, and the owner of this home decided to take some precautions by shielding his windows.
I know what you are thinking, how can that little piece of fabric protect this window? These window covers are made from the same kind of fabric that is used in bulletproof vests. So they are supposed to stop flying debris in winds up to 155-miles-per-hour when they are secured to a frame like this. Now they are easy to install, they do not take up a lot of space, and that kind of simplicity is so important when you are preparing for a storm. I know from experience because I have had to board up my windows on more than one occasion because of an impending storm.
I use plywood, like many people in coastal areas. It is simple enough, but if you wait until the storm is closing in, you will be in a long line at the home center. First, measure the window and cut a piece of plywood, half-inch to three-quarter-inch plywood works best. And you will want to cut it about a half-inch smaller than both dimensions, so it will fit into the opening very easily. Then, you just fasten it to the wood trim around the windows with screws about an inch and a half to two inch long.
This gets a little trickier if your windows are boarded by brick with no wood molding. But you can buy special spring loaded metal clips that will hold the plywood. Or you can add a little edge strip to the front and drill holes through it, and attach the sheet directly to the bricks with masonry screws. The downside is that plywood is heavy and bulky to store.
Allen Lyle: You know he is right, plywood is heavy, especially if you use three-quarter-inch plywood. But you do have some other choices out there like plastic and listen there have been a lot of improvement in plastic storm shutters since about 1992 after hurricane Andrew hit the US. Here’s a great example. This is a corrugated polypropylene panel. It is rated for the highest impact standards. But look at this, it is 75% lighter than plywood. One other benefit, because it is translucent, it still lets light in your house, unlike plywood. And because it is polypropylene, it won’t rot, it won’t warp, will likely last the lifetime of your home.
Now, it is not all sunshine and roses. It’s true that this is a great panel, but just like plywood, you have to have a place to store it and even though this is the least expensive of all the systems out there, still plan on paying about four times more for this than you would for three-quarter-inch plywood.
Danny Lipford: Even if you protected your windows there still may be a weak point in your home in the event of very high winds. Now most people don’t even think about their doors and protecting them in the event of a storm. But they can be very vulnerable, too, especially your garage doors. And think about it, these are big expanses of metal or wood that are built very light, so that they can be raised and lowered. And to make matters worse, they are only supported on two sides, and not top and bottom.
Now, there are kits are available that you can install in the event of a storm, so you can provide that support, and it anchors it at the top and bottom. But if you do not have that option on the door that you have, you can still build your own support system. The important thing is to provide support in the middle of the span. For a two-car garage, there should be at least two extra points across that space.
To anchor them you can attach a piece of wood to the concrete floor with masonry screws or lead anchors. The braces themselves can be created by attaching two 2x4s together in a “T” arrangement for additional strength. The braces are secured to the anchor board on the floor and also attached to the wall above the door. Because the door can’t roll up with the braces in places, it is probably a good idea to disconnect the door operator, when the support system is installed.
If you need to make repairs to any of your interior drywall, then Jodi has a product that will make this very common repair a lot easier.
Jodi Marks: You know making a drywall repair is inevitable. You know it is going to you happen, you just don’t know when. The work is not that complicated, but it is messy. And it can be a hassle, if you do not have the right tools and material. Making a small repair job convenient and easy is the idea behind this new repair kit in a can.
It’s called Jig-A-Patch, and it combines the three key things you need for drywall repairs into one all inclusive can. For starters, the cap doubles as a putty knife, and then the spackle itself is sprayable. That means no more scraping and stirring to try to revive a dried out container. On top of the can there is a sanding pad, which is reusable and washable. So, unlike ordinary sandpaper, it can be rinsed out when it is full of spackle.
To get started just simply clear the damaged area or hole of debris, and give the can a good shake before spraying in to the void. After it sets for a minute or two, use the putty knife cap to remove the excess. When it is dry, smooth out your work with the sanding pad, and you are ready to paint.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at how the weather impacts your home from the simple rainstorm to a hurricane or tropical storm that hits a coastal area like this. Now no doubt about it, some of these homes behind me could really benefit from some of the window shutter solutions that we looked at earlier. But no matter where you live in the country, sooner or later, the weather is going to effect and interrupt the power going to your home.
Now, whether that offending storm is a hurricane or maybe one of those midwinter ice storms, doing without power, for even a short amount of time, can really affect your life a lot. We really rely on it to light up our homes, to heat and cool the homes, and to refrigerate and cook our food. That’s why more and more people are looking for alternate sources and back-up sources for power.
And many of them are choosing automatic, standby generators to meet that need. These devices are installed outside a home and connected directly to its electrical system. Lot’s of people discovered what an advantage that could be in 2005 when hurricane Katrina blacked out a good chunk of the Gulf Coast.
Rick Dillard: Yeah, Katrina did have an effect on my decision to, you know, to have constant power. At that current time, I was not living here. It was before I built this house and I lived in an area where one of my neighbors did have power, and I saw how they, you know, through that whole scenario of a lot of lost power that they maintained a comfort and lights and the whole scenario. So, that was part of my decision making when I built the new house that I wanted to have that constant power source.
Danny Lipford: When power from the utility company is interrupted, a standby generator like this one from Generac automatically turns itself on and activates a transfer switch to shift the homes power load from the utility to the generator. That’s not just a convenience, it is a safety issue, too. Transfer keeps the generator from feeding current back into a utility grid that is still undergoing repair. And because it’s powered by natural gas or propane, you don’t have to worry about stocking up on gasoline to keep feeding these things.
Rick Dillard: Unlike the power lines overhead, in which you lose power quite often, the gas supply to the Generac is constant, and you are always supplied with a constant source of power.
Danny Lipford: But the big question is how much of your home will they power.
Richard Meadows: Well, obviously the larger you get, the more they will run, but the more expensive they are. Like I said, this one is connected to the entire house, so the homeowner really doesn’t have to worry about shedding any loads or turning anything off. It’s normal cycling of the air conditioners and runs everything.
You can use smaller units to only run selected loads in a house, you just have to make sure either if it is a new installation or new house it has to be wired to isolate the loads that its sized for in a separate panel or if it’s an existing house that we are adding one too, we might have to do some rewiring of the circuits to group them like we need them for this particular generator.
Danny Lipford: While permanently installed or whole house stand by generators is probably the best and most convenient solution to that problem, it may not be in everyone’s budget. Now unfortunately, that doesn’t decrease the need for electricity in these situations, so a lot of people will rely on portable generators to get them through these times.
Now, when a storm is really bearing down on the coast, these things will disappear from a home center faster than plywood and batteries, which means a lot of people are using portable generators for the very first time. Hey, they are really easy to use, but there are certain safety issues that have to be considered.
The first is location. Generators should only be operated outside in the open at a safe distance from your home, because the engines on these things give off carbon monoxide, which is an odorless colorless gas. It is highly poisonous and deadly to people and animals, so never use one in an enclosed area, like a storage building, garage, carport, basement, or crawlspace.
Another danger generators pose is from the electricity you buy them to generate. Never hook one directly to the wiring in your house. Instead, plug your appliances and other items into an extension cord which leads to the generator. The total wattage of all the electrical devices combined should not exceed the rated capacity of the generator or the extension cord.
Finally, to prevent fires, turn the generator off, and allow it to cool down before refilling it with fuel.
Anytime you can get natural resources for free, grab and run. Of course I am not talking about plugging in to your neighbors power supply, but if you are not harvesting rainwater, then you are losing out on gallons of free water every year. All you need is roof and rain gutters. You may also want to install a leaf guard to remove any excess debris before the water hits the downspout.
From there, divert the downspout to a rain barrel or any other type of storage container. The most common use for this harvested rainwater is watering your garden or any other houseplants you may have. The best part is you’re going to be reducing the amount of chemicals and energy needed to treat and transport water to your home and saving valuable drinking water, which will reduce your water bills and the volume of water taken from the environment.
Boy, this wouldn’t be a bad place to call home. But you know if you live along the coast like this, you have to expect a few challenges when extreme weather hits. In fact, these homeowners lost the entire lower part of their stairs during a recent storm. They will have to replace that fairly soon.
Now I hope through this week’s show we have been able to illustrate how just a little bit of preparation will allow you and your home to handle whatever the weather throws at you.
Hey, thanks for being with us this week. I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you next week here on Today’s Homeowner.