Are you about yo embark on some home decoration or upgrades – have you taken a good, long look around the exterior of your home lately – as tempting as it might be to have your sash windows double glazed, or your kitchen refitted – do check your homes structure before you spend on decoration or upgrades. Mark my words – your home will not forgive you for ignoring it. OK, this is a really boring tip, and you probably just clicked off the page and I am going to see huge bounce rates in the first thirty seconds. That will probably help Google bury this page, but if you didn’t and you read on, you are going to save yourself from some true horrors. All credit to you if you made it past this first paragraph, you are going to be a long term homeowner, with common sense.
It’s far more important to ensure the structure of your home is in good condition
If you’ve been in your home 5-7 years, there’s a fair chance that it has suffered the effects of time, weather, heat, and moisture. Just take a look at my preparing to sell your home post – you’ll see quick touch ups everywhere – we all do it and that means there could be underlying issues that must be treated now. Caulk joints fail and allow moisture to penetrate cracks causing trim and and moulds to decay, as well as sills. Ignore important maintenance at your peril. This window wasn’t decorated for about 6 years after it should of been. Here is the result
These conditions can result in expensive home repairs if ignored and well that’s why I said your a sensible homeowner if you are still reading. This kind of structural repair creeps up on you with no notice at all. By the time this homeowner knew there was a problem, under the paint surface, well you can see what she found!
Why does your facial boards and trim rot?
Siding and trim decay usually begins at the ends, at splices, or around nail holes. Cut-ends of siding and trim are absorptive due to the wicking action of the fibres in the material. Over time, continuous exposure to moisture supports the growth of mould, mildew, and degradation of the building material. This can result in damage to underlying framing. Luckily this was an outbuilding and not the main home.
Timber as beautiful as it is, basically, it’s a sponge, it’s how the tree absorbs water and nutrients, just because it’s dead, it doesn’t stop doing that. Nature has proven just how incredible plants are, they feed with zero effort.
Inspect your home for structural issues
Start by facing the front of the house. If there is wood railing around the porch, check to make sure that there is a good bead of caulking around the tops and especially the bottoms of all the pickets. Check all areas where ends of materials meet, such as the ends of handrails and posts. If you have a garage, check around the bottoms of brick moulding at doors. When new homes are built, trim is installed and then painted. Once installed, it is impossible to paint the ends of the brick moulding which butt to within ¼ “ of the concrete, or worse, are in direct contact with the driveway.
Standing water during heavy rains can wick up into the rough ends of the brick moulding causing decay from the bottom and there’s nothing that can be done expect removing the trims, a time consuming and costly exercise, instead, make sure the ends are well caulked and painted with an oil base to ensure the best protection you can. Before doing this you might try wicking in Cuprinol five star to kill any bacteria in the wood already.
Check the moulding that runs above the garage door opening. Typically this is an L-shaped piece of trim called “drip cap”. In double garages with a single door, there is often a splice in the brick moulding and/or drip cap due to the long span. Any joint or splice in wood is a potential failure point so give them careful attention.
Clean your gutters
Another problem area is gutter joints and down spout junctions. Gutters that are clogged allow water to run behind the gutter and saturate the fascia trim – you’ve seen the results of that above! take a look at a picture soclear.co.uk shared. This is a typical disaster situation with water slowly dripping into the walls and trims.
Since there is little light and air behind the gutter, the fascia stays damp for extended periods and contributes to mildew growth and wood decay. As you move around the house check windows, doors, the fascia behind the gutters and the soffit corners for signs of softening wood. Take a look at areas where trim comes into close contact with the roof such as the bottoms of dormers and angled fascia boards. If you have a prefabricated fireplace, check the siding and trim around the chimney (try binoculars for a closer look).
Avoid unnecessary window replacement
Be sure to inspect the window sills, especially those on the lower level which may be located behind tall shrubs that hold in moisture and humidity. Check out the drip cap above the window as well to make sure that it is well painted and there are no gaps in the caulking. Make sure your sash window paint is not flaking and in good condition. Catching a sill that needs a little patching early will save hundreds of pounds.
Check for roof leaks
Your plumbing system has a number of vents projecting through the roof. These are the 2 or 3 inch PVC pipes usually located at the rear of the house (for aesthetics) and are made weatherproof via a rubber gasket that slips over the circumference of the tube. The problem is, with the summer heat, these gaskets break down and become dry and cracked, letting in just a little water each time it rains.
A good way to check for a failed gasket without going on the roof, is to go into the attic on a sunny day and look for sunlight around the pipe opening.
Basically, if you find any area where trim or siding members meet, where conditions are generally damp, or where wood comes into close contact with the ground or the roof, you will find areas that are susceptible to decay.