Nailing It Down
By Dave Murnen
and Pat Beaty
Last week we talked about the worst predator attacking the integrity of our homes—trapped moisture.
Today we want to take you beyond the foundation to explain more ways to identify and attack this wet, silent beast.
The exterior siding protects your home from nature’s fury, just as your clothes protect you. When properly installed and maintained, the siding materials used are generally durable and long-lasting. However, bad paint, UV sunlight, damaged siding, poor caulking and rusted flashing along moisture build-up can damage your house. Good ventilation and timely maintenance are our best offensive weapons.
What you hope to see
Here’s what you want to see as indicators that your home is well protected:
• A great paint job
• Good doors, windows and trim
• Good gutters and downspouts with splash blocks, to convey the water away from the foundation
• A good working flapper vent for the dryer
• Kitchen and bathroom fans vented outside
• High and low attic venting
• Lots of foundation vents in pre-treated skirting
• Happy neighbors admiring your well kept home
So, what should you do if you see something that is not on the desired list?
Well, for starters, if you see peeling paint, as we said, it’s probably a moisture-control problem.
It may mean that it is time to install plastic under your house, add vents or add vented fans in bathrooms and kitchen. If you already have fans, make sure they are vented outside and that you use them. You may also need additional attic vents. Use our rule of thumb, one square foot of ventilation for every 150 square foot of attic floor. Inspect your siding, windows, roof and gutters for signs of leaks.
Once you have found and corrected the sources of moisture, it’s time to scrape, prime and paint.
What if you see rusty siding nails or bleed marks? It means someone used the wrong siding nails. You need to re-nail with galvanized nails, countersink the old nails and fill the holes. Use a stain blocker over the rusty marks before painting.
Wood piles or lumber stacked near the house can also create problems—extra moisture and bugs for sure. However, it’s an easy fix. You will need to move the piles as far from the house as is possible, 25 feet if possible.
Look for bugs or bug holes, of any kind. They are indicators of consistent source of moisture. Find and stop the source then
Repair any bug damage. Remember, the damage may be hidden in a wall or in the floor. So you will need to follow the signs of moisture related damage— staining, peeling paint, rusty nails, dampness, dry rot and bugs until you get to the root of the problem.
Other common maintenance problems to look for include missing or damaged siding or trim. It’s important to repair and replace these materials to avoid moisture problems and further damage.
Also, pay close attention to broken or missing window parts. The sash surrounds the glass panes and must be kept well glazed and painted. The stool sill, sheds the rain away from the siding and must be smooth, rot-free and well painted. The trim boards around each window make a weather-proof transition from siding to glass. They, too, must be tightly caulked and painted. When these parts fail it can result in leaks, then wall and floor damage. When you are observing, repairing or replacing window parts, make sure to stab test the wall sheathing just under the window sill.
Other ways to control the moisture in your home include leaving the bathroom fans on for ½ hour after you are done with your shower or bath. Making a habit of opening your windows and “airing out your home’’—especially after you have been doing laundry, cooking or washing your floors—will make a difference in protecting your home.
If you would like a professional inspection, give us a call. Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services serves all of Grays Harbor County. Reasonably priced inspections are just one of the many services we offer.
Do you have questions about home repair or need help in becoming a homeowner? Call Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services at 533-7828 or visit us at 710 E. Market St.. ANHS is a private non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County.