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Category: Home Improvement Tips

Can Pressure Treated Wood Rot?

When trees are cut for construction lumber, any of the wood that is to be used outside in the elements must be pressure treated. Without this special anti-corrosive treatment, wood will rot and will be consumed by insects and other animals.

How is Wood Pressure Treated?

Pressure Treated Wood

To pressure treat wood, lumber is placed into a pressure tank and sealed. Air is then extracted from the wood in a vacuum process, and a chemical solution is added. This solution – made up of copper, chromium, and arsenic – penetrates deep into the wood under pressure in the tank. Each chemical performs its own duty in stopping decay. Copper is a fungicide, chromium is a bactericide, and arsenic is an insecticide. When treated properly, this process should keep wood safe from decay for many years.

Is It Possible for Wood Decking to Rot?

While the pressure treatment process generally works well, it is not effective 100% of the time. There are a few factors that could cause even fairly new pressure treated wood to rot. Let’s explore…

Defective Chemicals

There are occasions when the chemicals used in the treatment process are defective. Because each chemical performs a specific function, if one or more are defective, rot can begin to occur. Or, if the chemical cocktail was not properly mixed, the solution could also be defective. 

Gauge Malfunctions

During the treatment process, wood is put under pressure so that the chemicals penetrate the wood completely. At the treatment plant, if a pressure gauge malfunctions, it is possible that the tank does not reach maximum pressure. If this happens, the wood may not fully absorb the chemicals.

Cracks Leading to the Inner Portions of Wood

It is not uncommon for pressure treated wood to develop cracks. In the construction process, holes must be drilled to attach the wood to its foundation. In warm weather wood expands, and in cold weather it contracts. This, along with foot traffic on decks, creates constant back-and-forth pressure on screws and nails. Over time, cracks can develop, allowing moisture to seep into the wood. If the chemicals deep within the wood are not present, or are scarcely present, this moisture can begin to rot the wood.

How Can I Tell if My Deck is Rotting?

Rot in Deck WoodCracks and wood rot do not always go hand-in-hand. While you need to keep an eye on cracks, if the wood was properly treated, having cracks doesn’t always lead to rot. However, if you notice wood that is splintering, or is soft when you press on it, you might be experiencing rot. It is best to have a professional take a look and determine whether replacement is necessary.

What Do I Do if I See Rotting on My Deck?

If you do see signs of rot, it is recommended that the damaged wood be replaced as soon as possible. Chances are that it’s not your entire deck that is effected. Replacing the boards that do show signs of rot will help your deck last longer.

With proper care, your pressure treated wood deck should last between 10 and 30 years. However, this life span is only possible when conditions are not extreme, and when you clean and seal your deck regularly. Decks left unsealed will have a shorter life span.

 

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Why Do Roof Shingles Blow Off?

Shingle Blow OffsAs roofers, we are often asked why shingles blow off even when there hasn’t been a bad storm or high wind day. There are a few different reasons shingles blow off. Some are obvious, while others…not so much. Let’s explore…

The Obvious – Age

You’ve heard the phrase ‘nothing lasts forever.’ That certainly applies to roofing — most standard shingle roofs have a life expectancy of around 20-25 years. When shingles near their end, they begin to fail. They come loose from their seals and attachments, they crack, and they break. Wind and weather will eventually pry these failing shingles loose and they will blow off. 

When you experience shingle blow offs due to age, it’s time to call a licensed roofing professional. An honest roofer will inspect the roof and let you know if a repair will get you through another few years, or if your roof is in danger of causing more serious damage to your home such as leaks. 

The Not-So-Obvious – Poor Installation, Underlying Roof Issues, and Product Defects

If age is not necessarily the culprit of your shingle blow offs, it could be that your roof was either installed improperly, that there is an issue beneath your shingles, or even that the shingle installed is defective.

Poor Installation

Having a roof installed by someone who is not licensed is risky at best. There are reasons licensing exists – and that is to ensure that installers are trained, and that the consumer is protected. Improper installation can be caused by not using the proper tools, sealing, underlayment, and nails. It can also be caused by not nailing the shingles to the roof in the proper location. If your roof was installed by a professional who may have simply had a bad day, no worries. They will make it right! However, installed by someone unlicensed and you’re on the hook for having it fixed.

Compromised Plywood

If what is beneath your shingles is compromised, it can cause shingles to come loose and blow off. At the base of your roof, there is plywood. As we know, plywood is not impervious to moisture, unless adequately protected. Should that protection become compromised, damage can occur. A common cause of water beneath shingles is the improper or failed sealing of pipes and vents that protrude through your roof. Look atop any home’s roof and you will see several protrusions that are necessary to the home. As with anything that requires sealing, these items should have periodic re-sealing to prevent water damage to plywood.

Product Defects

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then a shingle manufacturer will produce a product that fails years before its expected end. If the shingle was produced by a reputable manufacturer like CertainTeed, GAF, or EcoStar, there is no need to worry. They will work with you on replacement. Another solid reason to install a highly rated product by a highly rated roofer!

The Surprising – Blow Offs on a Brand New Roof!

On occasion, it is possible for shingles to blow off of a new roof – even one installed by a licensed professional. That is because it can take a few weeks for the seal that is beneath the shingles to set. The seal needs a bit of heat to set, which is usually produced by the sun even when the temps outside are freezing. However, if your new roof is installed when it is cold, if it does not have direct sunlight, and you experience a windy day, blow offs could occur. Here again, hiring a pro is key. Should this happen, rest assured that it will be fixed!

Need Help? Give Us a Call!

If you have experienced shingle blow offs on your home, give us a shout. Our roofing professionals will inspect your roof to see whether a fix or replacement is necessary. Call 1-866-836-ROOF (7663) or complete our online Estimate Request form. 

 

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Preventing Ice Dams on Your Home

How to Prevent Ice DammingIce damming on your home’s roof is caused by fluctuating weather conditions during winter. Snow and ice that accumulates on your roof, then thaws and re-freezes can cause a build-up of ice at your roof’s edge. This build up is often highly concentrated, and when thawing begins, it can over saturate your roof, causing leaks.

This winter we have seen prime conditions for ice dams – lots of precipitation and temperatures that swing from extremely low to warm. Hopefully your roof will escape the effects of ice damming, but just in case, here are some tips that can help prevent it.

  • Make sure that your attic has proper ventilation. Approximately one square foot of ventilation opening is recommended for every 150 square feet of attic space.
  • Check for air leaks in your attic from pipe vents, electrical junctions, etc. Seal any leaks.
  • Be sure that your attic is well insulated. Insulation such as Owens Corning Atticat blown-in attic insulation provides a high R-value, helping to ensure that your home does not rapidly lose heat.
  • If you are able, use a rake or broom to clear snow from your gutter, and approximately 3-4 feet above it. This will help allow water to properly drain into the gutter.
  • Pay close attention to ceilings during snow/freeze/thaw period. If you see signs of a leak, contact a professional to check for damage. Mold can begin forming in as little as 72 hours, so taking care of leaks promptly is crucial.

After all of the snow and ice thaw in the spring, it is wise to check your roof for any damage. Harsh winter conditions can cause shingles to loosen or fall, particularly on older homes. Be sure to have loose or missing shingles repaired or replaced right away to prevent future damage.

As always, when you need assistance with your roof, contact the professionals at S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows. We have helped homeowners care for their home’s exteriors since 1980. We are licensed, bonded and insured, hold an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and have received Angie’s List Super Service Award for 9 straight years. Contact us today at 1-866-836-ROOF.

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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Replacement?

DOES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER ROOF REPLACEMENT?
During inspection for insurance purposes, your insurance adjuster or roofing contractor will take photos of any damage.

As with most homeowners insurance claims, you may be wondering “does homeowners insurance cover roof replacement?”, but that will vary from company to company, policy to policy.

If you suspect that you have roof damage caused by severe weather such as hail or high winds, or damage caused by animals or birds, it is possible that repair or replacement could be covered by your homeowners insurance. Normal wear and tear due to age is not likely to be covered. However, if your roof is less than 10-15 years old and has missing or broken shingles, the shingle manufacturer may be to blame, and repair or replacement could be covered by insurance. This does not happen often, but every now and again a shingle manufacturer produces an inferior batch that fails prior to its warranty expiration.

In either case, the first step is to contact your insurance agent. They will ask you a few questions to determine next steps. After that, if they decide that further investigation is necessary, they will send an insurance adjuster to your home to asses the situation.

Once it is determined that a claim will be covered, the agent may provide a list of local roofers for estimates or recommend that you contact contractors in your area. In our experience, they generally require more than one quote (usually 3) to ensure a fair price.

Prior to having the work done, your insurance company will need to approve the company/estimate that the homeowner is most comfortable with, and work can begin.

Beware Storm Chasers

When areas are hit by severe weather, storm chasers aren’t far behind. In our industry, storm chasers are usually fly-by-night companies looking to capitalize on storm damage. They often canvas door-to-door after storms asking if the homeowner would like them to get on your roof to assess any damage. Often times their tactics are not only shady, they can be illegal. Storm chasers have been known to CAUSE damage to your roof while “inspecting” it, then encourage you to file a claim. This practice is illegal, and insurance companies know how to spot it. In many cases, insurance companies can find enough evidence of this man-made damage to reject your claim, leaving you with a damaged roof that you must pay to fix.

Should you choose to have your roof inspected for damage prior to contacting your insurance agent, it is wise to be present to observe the process. Illegal tactics by storm chasers include hitting shingles with a hammer to mimic hale damage, curling the edges of shingles by hand, or breaking shingles. Unless a roofer is fixing missing or loose shingles, an inspection should be observation only. You should ask for photos to be taken and a report to be written and provided to you for your records. You can provide these to your insurance provider.

As always, never hire a contractor that is not licensed, bonded and insured. Ask your contractor for their credentials prior to enlisting their services, and ask for a written contract/estimate for the work to be performed. So “does homeowners insurance cover roof replacement?”. If you’re still having concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us!

S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows has worked with most insurance providers, and are listed as a preferred contractor with many. If you’re curious if you have roof damage that is covered by insurance, contact your insurance provider. They will guide you through the process the right way.

 

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Missing Shingles or Broken Shingles – What’s the Harm?

If your home has missing or broken roof shingles, you might think it’s no big deal. Outside of looking bad, what’s the harm, right? Well, there can be a lot that goes wrong when roofing shingles are missing or broken. After all, your roof’s shingles are the main line of defense for your home against the elements. When that main line is compromised, minor intrusions can cause major damage.

In this blog post, we cover what can cause your roof shingles to be compromised, what can happen if left untreated, and what to do to make sure your home stays safe from whatever Mother Nature has to bring.

Conditions that Can Cause Loose, Broken, or Missing Shingles

Damaged Roof ShinglesHigh/sustained winds – As we have seen in recent years, certain times of the year can bring with it high, sustained winds. Roof shingles are meant to sustain wind, and even some gusting. But when gusts reach high levels, and/or are sustained over a period of time, even the best shingles and installation can be in danger.

Ice damming – During winter months when weather patterns swing from mild to severe, the freezing, melting, and re-freezing can cause ice damming. Ice damming can force ice, then water, to back up under roof shingles. This process loosens and can even break the shingles.

Improper installation – When your roof was installed, hopefully it was installed by a licensed roofing contractor. That is not always the case. Roofs installed by unlicensed, or poorly trained contractors can be subject to a variety of flaws. Improperly installed plywood, underlayment, and shingles can result in shingles that become loose and easily dislodged in wind and rain.

Roof Age – Even the best shingles and the best shingle installation has its limits. Most shingles come with 20-30 year warranties. When that time is up, you will likely see the tell tale signs – missing and broken shingles. If your roof is near or past its warranty, roof replacement is probably in order.

Why Fix Damaged or Missing Shingles

Prevent Damage to Plywood – When roof shingles become compromised, water can seep underneath them. If the barrier between the shingles and the plywood (the underlayment) is also compromised (and it likely is when shingles become loose or broken) water can also seep underneath of it, reaching the plywood. Once water becomes trapped between the plywood and underlayment/shingles, it can quickly begin to rot the plywood. Rotten plywood can lead to leaks and even dangerous mold.

Prevent Leaks – Once water finds its way under your shingles, it will find a path that will eventually lead to leaks. Sometimes a homeowner won’t even be aware that they have shingles that are compromised until a leak occurs. If your home is situated in such a way that you cannot see the roof in its entirety, how would you know? Unfortunately, you’ll know when you see a leak! Leaks that are visible inside a home in ceilings and walls can be costly. If your roof shingles are aging or if you see missing or broken shingles, do not hesitate in fixing the issue.

Aesthetics – If you are like most, you take great pride in home ownership. You work hard to keep your home looking its best. When it comes to curb appeal, your roof is one of the first and most noticeable parts of your home. When roof shingles are broken or missing, it can give the appearance of a home that is unkempt. Fixing your roof will help keep your home looking its best.

Repairs vs. Replacements

Shingle/Roof Age – When deciding whether to repair or replace your roof due to missing or broken shingles, age is likely the first consideration. If your roof is well within the shingle warranty, a repair is probably going to suffice. If your roof is approaching or has exceeded the shingle warranty, your roofing contractor may recommend replacement. Roof replacement may also be recommended if a large portion of your roof has been compromised.

Aesthetics – Even when your roof is within its warranty, there are times when the shingle that was originally used is no longer available. Even if it is available, over time your existing shingles may have faded. In either case, it can be difficult to get a match that will not look ‘patched.’ When that is the case, you might choose a roof replacement over a repair.

Insurance Coverage – In our area, each year we see isolated extreme weather events. In 2018, Mt. Airy, Maryland experienced a small tornado that ripped the roof off of a portion shopping center. The year prior, Ellicott City, Maryland was devastated by severe flooding. When your roof has been damaged by severe weather, your homeowners insurance may cover the damage.

Cost – When the damage to your roof is not covered by insurance, it is up to you to foot the bill. Many roofers offer financing, however not everyone’s situation allows for the expenditure of a new roof, particularly when it is unexpected. If you are in a situation where you cannot afford a new roof, a repair may buy you enough time to save, or at least to find a financing option that works with your budget.

Consulting with a Roofing Contractor

As with any home improvement contractor, it is imperative that you make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Using an unlicensed roofing contractor, or doing a roof repair or replacement yourself does not provide you with a warranty. The lack of a warranty offers you no recourse if your roof becomes compromised. Reputable roofing contractors will offer not only the warranty on the roof shingle, but a limited workmanship warranty as well. When having your roof repair or roof replacement estimated, be sure to ask your contractor about warranties.

In addition to providing warranties, a reputable contractor will not advise roof replacement unless it is necessary. If your roof is well within the shingle warranty, unless there is significant damage, a large portion missing, or leaking, a reputable roofing contractor will likely offer a roof repair vs. a complete roof replacement.

If your home has missing or broken roof shingles, and you would like an assessment, contact us at 1-866-836-ROOF to schedule a no-obligation, free roofing estimate.

 

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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Home Improvement Sales

In any industry, you will find companies who thrive and those who struggle. Aside from companies who thrive for a short period of time riding a trend, most businesses that enjoy continued growth and success have two things going for them: quality work and/or products; and a high level of customer service. Nordstrom has long been lauded as a company whose customer service is second to none, and their merchandise of high quality. Not known for big sales or discounts, Nordstrom customers pay a bit more because they know that they are getting quality products from people who will stand behind them, and will make their experience shopping with them pleasant.

The home improvement industry is no different. Contractors who offer high quality products and services coupled with outstanding customer service are well on their way to success. Other factors are certainly at play – marketing and advertising, bookkeeping, scheduling, and fostering a healthy company culture are crucial as well. But first and foremost, from the viewpoint of the customer, great products installed well, and interactions with staff make or break the home improvement experience. As a customer shopping for a reputable contractor, we offer some insight into what you might expect from different companies.

Home Improvements on the Cheap

While it may be tempting to spend less money and hire a friend (or a friend of a friend) who does work on side, buyer beware…bigtime. Many home improvements, and home improvement companies, are regulated by counties and municipalities for a reason. When done improperly by unlicensed contractors, home improvements can severely damage your home, and even be dangerous. Wiring installed by an unlicensed electrical contractor could malfunction and cause a fire. A roof installed by an unlicensed roofer can cause leaks that can go undetected, resulting in mold, drywall damage and even ceiling collapse. Improperly installed plumbing can cause leaks and even flooding. And if these improvements are not installed by licensed professionals, your homeowners insurance may decline coverage.

Before you hire any contractor, it is advised that you check to be sure that they are licensed and insured. Licensed contractors are held to state mandated standards, which often require certifications.

Beware High Pressure Sales Tactics

All too often in the home improvement industry, companies adopt a high pressure approach to sales. These tactics may include:

  • Requiring all homeowners to be present during the sales ‘pitch’
  • Asking for 1 or more hours of your time during the sales process
  • Discounts for signing on the spot
  • No guarantee of pricing today being the same as tomorrow

Companies often adopt these tactics as a way to increase their closing percentage. In other words, their belief is that by approaching sales in this way, they will gain more customers. Some even go as far as to penalize their sales people if they do not close the sale the same day.

Sale Pitch vs. Product and Installation Information

Home Improvement Sales
S&K salesman Tom Ciambruschini provides information on windows to customers in our showroom.

If you’re like most, you don’t  necessarily want to be ‘sold’ on a product. Instead, most homeowners are instead seeking some degree of education on whatever project they are looking to have completed. If they are in the market for new windows, they might want to compare how energy efficient different window products are, and how the style will look in their home. They may be interested in product warranties as well, and whether or not those warranties will transfer to the next owner of their home – a factor that can help in the home selling process.

Depending on the customer, this education process can be achieved in a variety of ways, and at varying levels. Some customers want to educate themselves. They might seek a lot of information from different sources, or they might simply put their trust in a friend, neighbor, or a company they have used before. Or, they might opt to have the contractor(s) that they are considering educate them. This is a personal choice. Before you have a contractor come to your home, it is wise to ask what their sales process entails.

Know the Facts on Pricing

When it comes to product pricing, a factor that high pressure companies will use to try and lock you in on the spot, contractors are typically made aware of pending price increases by suppliers. For example, if a pricing for a particular line of shingles like those from CertainTeed, will be going up, manufacturers and suppliers will notify contractors of the increase ahead of time.

As far as installation pricing goes, contractors who hire sub-contractor crews will also be made aware of any pending hourly, or per-job increases. And of course, contractors who employ their own installation crews have full control over when and how much their install pricing will increase.

Therefore, using the ‘we can’t guarantee these prices tomorrow’ tactic is not necessarily valid.

Our Approach to Home Improvements

S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows has served customers in Maryland and Northern Virginia since 1980. As a family-owned and operated business that has grown from a 2-person company to a $25M leader in exterior home improvements, our approach to sales and service is simple. Our sales people will work with you in the way that is right for you. If you are seeking an education in products and installation, we are more than happy to provide that to you. If you have already done your research, we will respect that as well. We do not require that all homeowners are present during our visit. In fact, if you do not have the time to spend at home meeting with us, we can visit your home to take measurements and call you to discuss your project by phone after that.

From a service standpoint, we pride ourselves in striving to make your experience worry free, guaranteed. From the initial contact to asses your needs, to the estimate, scheduling, installation and follow-up, our staff works hard to satisfy your home improvement needs.

We offer fair pricing, and will lock your estimate price for 10 days.  We will never tell you today that your price might be different tomorrow!

If you are in need of exterior home improvements, we encourage you to shop around to find the contractor that best fits your needs. Compare pricing, reputation and testimonials, and don’t forget to ask about licensing and insurance. We’d welcome the opportunity to be on your list of considered contractors. To schedule a free, no-obligation estimate, call us or click here to complete our online estimate request.

Best of luck with your next home improvement project!

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