Does Your Roof Need to be Cleaned or Replaced?
Those ugly stains on your roof could be more than just an eyesore; they could also be “eating” the shingles.
The main culprit is gloeocapsa magma, a species of airborne bacteria that accumulates and grows on shingles. The bacteria holds moisture, breaks down the shingles and shortens the life of a roof.
Roof cleaning businesses are common in the South, where heat and humidity encourage the growth of bacteria and mold on roofs (and on the sides of houses, for that matter). More people in the Northeast – where stains most often appear on north-facing or shaded roofs that do not get a lot of sunlight – are discovering roof-cleaning as a viable alternative to replacing their roofs.
Before you throw up your hands in disgust and call us for an estimate to replace your roof, contact our friends at Riley’s Roof Wash for an expert opinion. http://rileyroofwash.com/
Fall Roof Maintenance Tip #4
Inspect your roof on the inside.
Now that you’ve finished the visual inspection of your roof on the outside of your home, take a few moments to inspect the inside. Wait for a rainy day and whether you have a crawlspace or attic, take a bright light into the space and look for the following signs of a failing roof:
- Wet spots – obviously if water is getting in, you need to have that taken care of ASAP.
- Stains – if you are not sure whether the stains are old or new, use a pencil to outline the spot. Recheck after a rainstorm to see if the stain has gotten larger.
- Mold or mildew – Click here to read an article about mold in the attic from one of our past newsletters. (Sometimes mold and mildew appear for reasons other than a leaky roof)
Fall Roof Maintenance Tip #3
Check out the chimney and other flashings.
What are flashings? The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language gives the following definition:
flash·ing n. Sheet metal used to reinforce and weatherproof the joints and angles of a roof.
- Around your chimney
- In valleys -The “V” created where two sloping roofs meet.
- Where the roof meets the walls of your home.
- Around the roof vents
- Around skylights
- On dormers
The flashings were installed to prevent water to seeping in through your roof at vulnerable spots. If they have deteriorated, loosened or pulled away they will be less able to do their job.
Fall Roof Maintenance Tip #2
Before I worked for a roofing company, I never looked at roofs – not even my own. Now I look at roofs as I am driving down the street, when I am stopped at a red light or just sitting in someone’s back yard. I can’t help it! When you inspect your roof this fall here are a few specific things to look for:
1. Missing, cracked or curling shingles – this is a sign that your roof may be coming to the end of its useful life.
2. Dark, “dirty-looking” areas – this could be caused by environmental pollutants, vegetation, fungus or algae growth.
3. Loss of granules – shingles loose granules as a part of normal wear, from someone walking on the roof or hail damage.
This picture shows an obviously damaged roof. Your roof may not show such obvious signs of aging. If you have curling, cracked or missing shingles, or there are shingles that have noticeably lost granules, they may need to be replaced. If you aren’t sure, we can give you a professional opinion.
The dark and “dirty-looking” areas can be cleaned. By giving your roof a face-lift, you can extend its life and it will be more pleasing to the eye for you and your neighbors.
Remember to avoid walking on the surface of the roof unless you can install a plank system that can handle your weight and not damage the roof.
Fall Roof Maintenance Tip #1
Soon the leaves on your trees and shrubbery will be turning beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow – and shortly thereafter they will turn brown and fall to the ground (or onto your roof and into your gutters.) Before you have to start the chore of raking up those leaves, take a walk around your home and observe the branches hanging over your roof and gutters.
2. How easy is it for squirrels to get to your roof using branches as a bridge? They will soon be looking for winter housing and branches that hang low over your roof could be a big WELCOME! sign.
Trimming a couple of tree branches could be a DYI project, but when it comes to getting on a ladder and especially on a roof, we always recommend you hire a professional.
If you do decide to attempt this yourself make sure have the correct type of ladder (not a step ladder) and follow the safety rules:
- Make sure the ladder is on solid, level ground.
- Secure the ladder at the top to prevent it from slipping.
- Inspect the ladder, rungs and rails for damage.
- Extend the ladder at least 3 feet beyond the gutter, and angle it 1 foot back from the house for every 4 feet in eave height.
- Always use both hands when climbing the ladder.
(The safety tips above are courtesy of the National Roofing Contractor’s Association.)
Over 1 million of reported eye injuries suffered annually happen in and around the home…
“Eye Safety at Home” by Jonna Jefferis was published by Davis Vision
To see more informative and well-written articles concerning eye health and safety visit davisvision.com Vision-Wellness-Library
It was one of those assemble-at-home bookcases that are so much less expensive than what you find in furniture stores – a good deal, thought Kevin.
On his kitchen floor, he laid out the instruction sheet, back panel, wood shelves, pegs and screws. Although the manufacturer claimed that no power tools were needed, Kevin found a hole that was too tiny for the screws provided. He would have to use his drill. “I knew this was too good to be true,” he muttered on his way to the garage.
In the garage Kevin made an understandable but costly mistake. With only one hole to drill, and not remembering where his safety goggles were, he made the decision not to look for them. Kevin might have to spend more time searching for the goggles than wearing them, he reasoned. Back in the kitchen, as the whining drill made contact with the shelf, it propelled a wood splinter into Kevin’s right eye, causing sudden, sharp pain and temporary vision loss.
More than 40 percent of eye injuries occur during such everyday activities as cooking, home repairs or gardening. Of those injured, 50,000 experience significant vision loss.
Like Kevin, you probably feel safe in your own home, and you are – if you take proper safety precautions. Many7 of us don’t often consider the possibility of eye injury around the house. An American Academy of Ophthamoloy survey revealed that fewer than one in five Americans believes that he or she is at even a moderate risk.
Most are aware of hazards associated with construction sites and manufacturing plants, and in the 1990s, the majority of eye accidents did occur in the workplace. Today the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires workers to wear safety eyewear in all areas where eyes are at risk. These measures have decreased the number of such accidents in the workplace. In the home, however, eye injuries have become more frequent.
Experts partially attribute increasing at-home eye injuries to a growing trend by thrift-driven homeowners to tackle repair projects themselves, instead of hiring outside professionals. Unfortunately, without the advantage of the safety oversight that OSHA provides to employers, these do-it-yourselfers may be unaware of their risk of eye damage.
Any home project that involves car repair, working with wood, metal or chemicals, using a lawnmower or power tools requires protective eyewear, which can prevent 90 percent of eye injuries. Polycarbonate is the most common lens material used in protective eyewear, as it is up to 10 times more impact-resistant than the plastic used in standard lenses.
This eyewear is available in most hardware stores, and should be approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Look for the ANSI “Z87″ qualifying mark on the product. Choose eyewear with a snug wrap-around frame to protect eyes from flying grass clippings, chemical splashes, splinters or other tiny particles.
Protective eyewear is not required for every job at home, of course, but awareness and care always are. Whether you’re doing yard work, using a spray cleaner or frying eggs on the stove, be cautious.
“Preventing an eye injury is much easier than treating one,” said H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, executive vice president of AAO. “People need to be aware of the everyday dangers that lurk in the home.”
Your sight is precious; protect it.
The perfect Valentine gift for those you really love may be one that keeps them off of their household ladder…
Statistics published by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission show that nearly 165,000 Americans are treated for ladder-related injuries every year. Maine lawyer, John E. Sedgewick wrote the following article for lawyers who may be trying a case involving injuries caused by a fall from a ladder. It contains some interesting information on household ladders (the type used by the average homeowner.)
With the high number of ladder related injuries every year, a lawyer needs to be able to advise a victim about their chances of success in a products liability case. While there is a high frequency and severity of injuries suffered by ladder users, there is not much literature availabe about ladder injury cases. Nevertheless there are questions which need exploring to ensure a satisfactory outcome.
Lawyers handling ladder cases must do a liability analysis which goes beyond the terms of the applicable ANSI standards. Failure to do so risks relying upon rules written by and for the ladder industry.
Statistics published by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission show that nearly 165,000 Americans are treated for ladder-related injuries every year.
Two Ladder Scenarios
On a beautiful autumn day, a relaxed and happy homeowner might be willing to go outside and clean dead leaves out of his gutters. He might even enjoy it.
At a local factory, an electrician might not mind taking the company’s fiberglass extension ladder into the warehouse, getting a co-worker to assist by holding the ladder base, and replacing a balky light fixture high above the concrete floor.
Both of these seemingly simple endeavors ended in tragedy. The base of the homeowner’s ladder slipped away from the house. He fell head first to the driveway and suffered a severe and permanent brain injury. …/…
The electrician was 20 feet in the air when he heard a cracking sound, and both rails of the ladder collapsed under him. He suffered a crippling leg and ankle injury. Why would these intelligent, able, well-intentioned people end up with tragic, life-altering injuries? Do these and other ladder cases have anything in common, or is every case unique? How can a lawyer begin to understand a ladder injury case, and advise the victim’s family about their chances of succeeding in a products liability case?
There is not much literature available about plaintiff’s ladder cases, but the frequency and severity of injuries suffered by ladder users suggest that these are questions worth exploring.
Ladders and the Hidden Cost of Using Them
Thinking about ladder-related injuries must start with the obvious: ladders are specifically made to put people high above the ground. Basic household tasks such as washing windows, changing a light bulb, and putting up a child’s swing cannot be done without climbing. Every new building that goes up and every home improvement project undertaken involves hours and hours of exposure to the risk of falling.
Beyond the basic fact that people use ladders to do dangerous tasks, there are many subtle factors which make ladders dangerous. One of them is that ladders are far more dangerous than they look. As stated in the opening line of advertising literature from one major ladder manufacturer, “While ladders may look innocuous, injury statics reveal … [otherwise]“.
Statistics published by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission show that nearly 165,000 Americans are treated for ladder-related injuries every year. Canada’s leading safety agency, the Industrial Accident Prevention Association, bluntly warns that ladders frequently cause death and permanent disability. Spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and electrocutions are among the known risks. …/…
It is one thing for a roofer or a construction worker to be on a ladder. Such people are trained in selecting, setting, and climbing ladders. They use ladders every day, and are taught to tie ladders off for safety and to use a lanyard to limit the distance they can fall. They may also have an assistant standing at the base of the ladder to steady and secure it.
Homeowners and other infrequent ladder users do not have such advantages, do not understand what makes ladders stand up, and do not take steps to protect themselves from falling. Inexperienced users may see the warning sticker on the side of a ladder describing the proper angle at which a ladder should be set up, but they probably do not appreciate the fact that the pitch of a sloping driveway is a more significant factor in determining the proper angle for setting the ladder than the more obvious angle – that between the ladder and the wall of the house.
They may not know how to assess or ameliorate the danger of putting a ladder on a wet surface, using it in soft soil, or reaching too far above or to the side of it. Inexperienced ladder users are also unlikely to check a ladder for bends, cracks, and other damage that may dramatically weaken it. While these issues may appear obvious in hindsight, the many risks associated with ladder use are not matters of “common sense” and are not known to the average person.
Another factor which contributes to injuries on ladders is the way that they are marketed and sold. By agreement in the ladder industry, ladders are sold as Type IA, Type I, Type II, or Type III ladders.
Type IA are called “extra heavy-duty” ladders, and are rated for supporting loads of up to 300 pounds. Type I ladders, referred to as “industrial,” are rated for loads of up to 250 pounds.
Type II ladders are referred to as “commercial” or “handyman” ladders, and are suggested for loads of up to 225 pounds.
Finally, Type III ladders are sold as “homeowner” or “consumer” ladders, and are rated for carrying 200 pounds. Understandably, Type III ladders are the least expensive and the lightest in weight. That, together with the “consumer” or “homeowner” label, makes Type III ladders the most attractive to infrequent ladder users.
While the classification system and the marketing plan are logical and good for business, they set up the questionable and dangerous circumstance that the flimsiest – and most dangerous – ladders are hawked to the least experienced users.
The flimsiest ladders are the most dangerous because ladders are dynamic structures – they move while they are being used. As the climber goes up or down a ladder, his body weight is transferred from one foot to the other, and from one ladder rail to the other. The ladder rails twist and bend with the changing weight distribution, and the twisting and bending of the ladder rails affects the way the ladder feet contact the ground. This, in turn, affects the ladder’s stability. Since a Type III ladder bends and twists more than a Type I, it is less stable. …/…
Type III ladders are lightweight and inexpensive because they are made with as little material as possible. In addition to minimization of the volume and weight of the raw materials in a Type III ladder, there are other design features that make these more dangerous than heavier ladders.
These include the small size of the feet, how the feet attach to the rails, how the feet distribute force to the ground, the telescoping hardware used on extension ladders the hinges and spreaders of stepladders, and all of the different locking mechanisms associated with them. Because this hardware is designed to be sold cheaply on Type III ladders, it is made cheaply.
Cheap hardware does not work smoothly, it wears out quickly and it does not perform reliably.
With this approach to designing and marketing ladders, the ladder industry sells huge volumes of its most dangerous products to its most inexperienced customers. Homeowners and other infrequent ladder users who buy the cheapest Type III ladders are literally and unwittingly buying trouble.
To read more: bermansimmons.com
Christmas Lights: Clean, Simple & Classy
Allyn Paul, in his blog: Life and Lawns gives step by step, clear instructions on decorating your home for the holidays. If your goal is to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere around your home rather than irritating your neighbors with a over-the-top display that attracts site-seers, read the three-part article on How to Put Up Christmas Lights. (Please note: the video was not working when I visited the site.)
- Review these basic ladder-safety rules before attempting any lighting project:
- Ladder Pitch: Ladders should be set up at a 4:1 angle (1 ft. out from the base for every 4 ft. of rise).
- Wear proper footwear with non-slip soles.
Face ladder while ascending and descending.
- Don’t carry tools in hand, use a window cleaner’s tool belt, or belt designed for the ladder work to be accomplished.
- Do not stand above highest “safe standing level” prescribed by ladder’s manufacturer, i.e.. (above top three rungs).
- Do not extend the center of your body’s torso past either side rail of ladder, i.e.. (do not over reach).
- Keep at least 3 points of contact when working, i.e.. (your feet and 1 hand).
- When ladders are used to climb onto or off of an upper surface, they must extend at least 3 ft. above the surface.
- Do not set up ladders in high-traffic areas.
- Never leave erected ladder unattended.
Send us a picture of your finished project and we’ll post it here!
5 Fall Maintenance Tips
The drop in temperatures is a reminder that cold weather will soon be upon us – but there is time to get your home ready for what ever old-man Winter has in store for the Lehigh Valley. Here are a few things that may want to check off your to-do list while the weather is still nice.
1. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned. Mr. Joe’s Chimney Sweep has a great page on their website called Common Myths. If you think you don’t need to worry about your chimney because you have a gas, oil or propane burner you need to read it.
2. Make an appointment for your furnace’s annual checkup. Without this yearly cleaning and inspection, a system can wear itself out quickly, pump deadly carbon monoxide into your home, or simply stop working.
3. Test and change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors.
4. Make sure that the roof, gutters, and downspouts are clear of leaves, branches, and other debris that can decrease their effectiveness when they are most needed. They can get damaged due to the weight of debris, causing them to give way or do harm to the home because they cannot lead the water away.
5. Others are getting ready for the winter months so you want to ensure that birds, chipmunks, squirrels or bats do not decide to spend the winter months in your attic or basement. Locate any entrance holes and seal them up. It may also require a visit from your local pest control company – we recommend you call Rich Potts of Pest Pro.
The Birds and The Bees and The Squirrels
Hope you are taking time this summer to enjoy the outdoors – flowers, vegetable gardens, birds, butterflies, squirrels – wait a second – SQUIRRELS?? Who enjoys squirrels? OK, so maybe you should be looking at your roof and the trees surrounding the roof to make sure there aren’t over-hanging branches that are making it easy for those pesky rodents to use your roof as a super highway or a place to nest.
The following information is from the Humane Wildlife Control website, humanewildlifecontrol.com:
As rodents, squirrels are constantly looking for food and produce many offspring – two litters per year (spring and late summer), with an average of 5-6 per litter. This activity can result in significant damage to buildings and major headaches for business and home owners.
Property Damage from Squirrels
- Squirrels will chew through anything. Structural wood, aluminium, electrical wires, insulation, shingles and vents are favourite targets.
FACT: Squirrels must constantly chew in order to keep their incisors from growing too long. Multiply the problem times five babies (pups), and you have a major building damage problem and fire hazard.
- Squirrels will build nests in attics, chimneys, vents, roofs and walls. They will use a wide variety of nesting material including insulation, vapour barrier, wood, drywall and paper.
FACT: Squirrel nests tend to be large in relation to their body size and very messy, often extending several feet along a vent pipe or in an attic. Their large dry nests and electrical wire chewing make them a major fire hazard.
If you do need a tree trimmed, try Gary’s Tree Service in Emmaus: www.garystree.com
How to Safely Inspect Your Roof for Winter Damage
The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) states: Most roof damage occurs before anyone at ground level notices it. To help prevent the common ‘out of sight, out mind’ pitfall, homeowners should conduct a simple roof checkup twice a year, and at least once following the end of an inclement winter season.
But, getting on a ladder is risky business, according to a study done by the National Institute of Health about 130,000 people annually go to the emergency room to be treated for injuires (mostly fractures) from ladder accidents. The majority of these accidents are in the the non-occumpational setting.
This Old House magazine gave a great tip for home owners: Get a pair of binoculars and ask your neighbor if you can use one of their upstairs windows to take a look at your roof. Here are the items the NRCA recommends you pay special attention to:
- Shingles that are buckling, curling or blistering; this indicates the end of the shingles’ life expectancy
- Loose material or wear around chimneys, pipes and other penetrations
- Excessive amounts of shingle granules in your gutters; granules give shingles added weight and protect them from ultraviolet rays
- Be sure to inspect the area around pipes and chimneys
- Inside your home, check interior walls and ceilings for water damage
If you see a potential roofing problem, don’t try to fix it yourself. Call a professional roofing contractor.
We are your professional roofing contractor and members of the NRCA.
Spring Roof Cleaning
When you think of Spring cleaning you may think about the inside of your house and maybe your flower beds and lawn – but do you every think about Spring cleaning your roof?
A major cause of deterioration of shingle roofs is caused by trees branches that overhang the roof. Branches drop leaves, twigs, and those beautiful spring petals that may hold water as they lie on the roof, causing premature aging of the shingles.
Be sure to clean any debris from the roof, especially around vent pipes, power fans, skylights, stove pipes and chimneys. We always recommend any work that requires getting on your roof be done by a professional.
To have the branches trimmed back or roof cleaned of debris, we recommend you contact Gary Rohrbach of Gary’s Tree & Shrubbery Service at (610) 967-2760 or www.garystree.com.
Is Your Attic Vented Properly for Winter Weather?
Although ice in your gutters will always melt from direct sunlight – your attic must be ventilated properly so that heat from within your house will not cause snow on your roof to melt. Vents should be installed under your eaves or roof overhangs and additionally at a higher point like the peak of the roof or gable wall. Natural convection will cause the hot air to exit the attic and cooler air to be pulled in from below.
If you have an unheated attic your insulation should be on the floor of the attic space. The minimum amount of insulation is set by code for new buildings but for comfort and reduced energy costs you should always consider adding more insulation up to about R60. (The U.S. Department of Energy Recommended Total R-Values for Attics in New Houses in Zone 2 is R-49.) Special precautions and materials are necessary so not to pack insulation around eave vents or light cans that pass through the drywall into the attic.
All of your vents for bathrooms or clothes dryers should directly exit the attic space and not vent into the attic area. Metal flexible duct can be secured to exhaust flanges and run to a vent on your gable end of your roof. I would not suggest that you vent vertically through the roof as that will be less water resistant then venting to an exterior wall of the attic. (From an article on YouRepair.com)
If you have any questions about proper ventilation in your attic space call our office: 610-2626-0919.
Gutter Protection is Fire Prevention
A gutter full of dry leaves and/or twigs can be set ablaze by a simple spark. Aluminum gutter covers like LeafProof cause leaves to fall off your roof instead of into the gutters – preventing a build up highly-flammable debris.
Also, you want to prevent possible chimney fires that produce those errant sparks. Remember – clean chimneys do not catch fire. If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove please call our friends at Mr. Joe’s Chimney Sweep for a free estimate: 610.398.1015.
If you are in an area that has experienced hail damage you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn. You probably have contractors knocking on your door. You may feel a little intimidated or maybe even irritated. We have customers who felt the same way. Our advice: take a minute…relax… you have time.
There is a reason why some contractors are very agressive and the following website might help you understand why: http://www.roofingcontractormarketing.com/About-Us/hail-storm-strategy-first-in-wins.html
There are roofing contractors from as far away as Texas in your area. They understand the best marketing techniques and use them whereever hail storms occur. Will the roofing contractor you choose be available if a problem occurs five years from now?
Your best bet is to take your time and find a reputable local roofer. Not a “local” roofer as expressed in the website above. You can check with the local Better Business Bureau, Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Lehigh Valley Building Association to see how long they have been members. Look at their websites – see if they have won any local awards.
Your roof is the biggest investment you will probalby make in your home. It protects everything in your home – take the time to find a contractor you can trust.