This guest post was written by Tony Licari, Chicago District General Manager for Sears Home Services.
In Chicago, summer means barbeques and music festivals, but it can also bring extreme weather and storms – which we’ve seen plenty of both recently. However, there’s a lot homeowners can do to prepare. A quick fix: when severe storms are in the forecast, secure, store or remove items from areas near or around your house, as these they may be tossed around from strong winds - and possibly damage roofing, siding and windows.
Between proper maintenance and professional help, you can prepare your home’s exterior for summer storms and maximize its lifespan.
Maintaining Your Roof
Each of a pitched roof’s six parts - the drip edge, soffit, flashing, valley, exhaust venting and fascia - needs sufficient maintenance or the rest of the components won’t work as effectively, especially during a summer storm. For example, the flashing prevents water from entering your home. If you notice any of the following on the roof, it’s time to call a professional about replacing:
- Blown off shingles
- Roof granules in your gutters, downspouts and downspout splash
- Curling and buckling shingles (they’ll look like potato chips)
- Algae stains
- Bits and pieces of shingles laying around the yard
- Moss (if you have older shingles)
- Moist appearance from the decking on the side of your attic
- Seeing daylight through the roof
The roof’s age also plays a role in how well it’ll hold up, as most roofs are 20 or more years older when first buying a home. If your home was built in the 1970s or earlier, consider a replacement.
Maintaining Your Siding
Siding also endures wear and tear from storms, and depending on the lifespan, it may be time for a replacement. While brick, fiber cement, natural stone and engineered wood sidings can last well over 75 years, aluminum and steel siding will not. Vinyl siding offers a happy medium that lasts more than 50 years, requires little maintenance and will help protect your home from the elements without causing too much damage to the budget.
If you experience a period of heavy rains or a flood that impacts your home, be sure to thoroughly inspect the siding as part of the recovery. Water damage can affect the insulation and absorb a lot of water, which can cause siding to expand, bow or buckle. If you find any of these signs of damaged siding, call an expert about replacement:
- Buckling or falling off
- Blown off
- Cracks, scratches or dents
- Rust or other stains
- Algae growth in areas under shade
- High household utility bills (a sign of poor insulation)
Maintaining Your Windows
Windows are a vital part of protecting your home from weather damage. Older windows simply can’t keep up with summer storms, but today’s window options have many upgrades like double- and triple-pane glass, expanding foam insulation and vinyl frames. These features protect from harsh weather, fluctuating temperatures and any rocks, sticks, or branches a storm might pick up. Regular window maintenance also protects against mold or wood rot - keep the storm out by caulking windows, and make sure to scrape away old caulk to ensure the new caulking adheres for a good seal. Before a storm, securely lock and latch these windows to keep out drafts or leaks. However, if you notice any of the following, contact an expert about replacing:
- Leaking air and water
- Too hot to touch
- High utility bills
- Won’t lock
- Won’t stay open without support
- Old or ripped screens – or no screens at all
- Dry rot
- Caulking worn out
If the current windows are more than 20 years old, consider new windows or having them re-glazed, which helps form a seal between the glass and wood.
After a storm
After heavy rainfall or thunderstorms and siding inspection, don’t forget to do a visual inspection of the rest of your home for any damage. If it’s minimal consider trying the repair yourself. For example, most homeowners armed with a basic toolbox can fix a damaged drip edge and check the attic/top floor for any leaks, rotted wood, exposed areas or loose fasteners. However, if the roof has missing shingles, shows damage on the flashing or rotted wood, it’s best to work with a professional and see if a full replacement is needed. Remember not to walk on the roof, as it damages the shingles and increases the risk for serious injuries from falling.
It may go without saying, but prevention is the best solution when it comes to home maintenance.
For more tips on weather-proofing your home for the summer and beyond, check out the Sears Home Services blog.
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area's full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he's the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.