How to Protect Your Home Against Winter Weather

snow covered home
As winter rolls in, it’s important to remember that winter weather can pose a threat to your home. There is certainly nothing you can do to stop the weather from coming, but you can prepare your home to the best of your ability. That way, when the weather does arrive, at least you can know you’ve done your part to protect your home. We’d like to offer up a few tips with regard to protecting your home during this harsh time of year.

Inspect the Roof

Heading into winter, you want to make sure that your roof is as structurally sound as possible. If there are any problems with the structure of your roof, getting them taken care of before poor weather rolls in and threaten to do damage to your home is important. Of course, going up on your roof to inspect for problems can be dangerous, and you might not know what you are looking for, anyway. Unless you are comfortable on your roof and have experience with this kind of work, it is a good idea to bring in a profession to do an evaluation. Doing so should not be a significant expense, and it can provide you with valuable peace of mind.

A Ground Check

We mentioned above that heading up on your roof for an inspection might not be the best plan, especially if you don’t know what to look for in terms of problems. One thing that is easy for any homeowner to do is to stand down on the ground and look up at the condition of the shingles. If any of your shingles are damaged or missing, you should be able to spot them from the ground (provided you can see all section of your roof, of course). Once you spot a problem from the ground, you can then bring in a pro to make the necessary repair.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

Fall is the right time to make sure your gutters are cleaned properly before winter moves in. This is a good practice for all homeowners, but it is especially important for those who live in an area where leaves will be dropped onto the roof during the fall. Leaves and other debris can easily cause your gutters to clog, and water will not be able to drain away from the roof as a result. Whether it is rain or snow, you need to move water away from the home quickly and properly to avoid doing damage to the structure. Again, be sure to exercise caution and only take on projects that you are confident you can complete safely. If cleaning out your gutters is a task that it out of your comfort zone for one reason or another, there is nothing wrong with hiring a contractor to do the work for you.

With proper planning, and just a little bit of good luck, you should be able to make it through the winter season without having to deal with too many home-related problems. Remember, get started early and give yourself plenty of time before the worst of the weather hits.

home roof with damage

Common Causes of Roof Leaks & How to Fix Them

Most of the time, you don’t think much about a passing rainstorm. You just tuck yourself safely inside and let the rain pass on by. That sounds good enough – but what happens when the rain no longer stays on the outside of the house? If you have a leak in your roof, you won’t be able to just sit back and enjoy the sound of raindrops against your windows. Instead, you’ll need to take action to solve the problem and keep the rain where it belongs – running into your gutters and away from your home.
What is it that can cause your roof to leak, and what can you do about the problem? Let’s take a closer look.

Failing Flashing

When installed and maintained properly, flashing can help you keep water from entering your home. However, it is possible for flashing to be installed incorrectly, and it can also wear out over time if it is not monitored. If you notice that water is making its way into your home, checking the flashing is one of the first jobs to tackle. Of course, if you are not comfortable venturing up onto your roof, bring in a professional to handle the task and keep yourself safe.

Absent Shingles

You don’t need to be an expert roofer to understand that missing shingles are a problem. The shingles on your roof are the first line of defense against rainwater, so having one or two go missing is an obvious problem. The fix here, naturally, is to replace the shingles. As long as this is the only issue leading to a leak, replacing your shingles should solve the problem and restore your roof to working order.

Old Age

Nothing lasts forever, and that includes the materials used to construct your roof. Over time, the weather is going to take its toll on your roof, and it may not be able to perform up to an acceptable level anymore. At some point, the only option may be to replace the entire roof before too much damage is done to the rest of your home. If you know that the roof on your home is coming up to the end of its useful life, it would be a good idea to start budgeting for a new roof in the near future. While you won’t look forward to spending the money required to replace your roof, the upside is that you should be left with a roof which requires very little maintenance in the years ahead.

In reality, there are nearly endless potential causes of a leaky roof. From just needing to replace a couple of shingles to needing to replace the entire roof, there are plenty of possibilities to consider here. As a homeowner, the best thing you can do is pay attention and respond to any issues you notice as quickly as possible. With swift action, you should be able to bring your roof back into proper condition in short order.

leaky ceiling

How to Locate a Home Roof Leak

A roof leak is a serious problem in your home. With the record amount of rain we have had here in central Maryland here in May of 2018, many home roofing systems have sustained damage. In times such as these when water has access to a part of your home where it is not supposed to be, you need to take prompt action. If left unchecked, water can do serious damage, and you may wind up spending thousands of dollars to fix the problem. It should go without saying that roof leak is going to need to be addressed right away before any long-term damage is done to the structure.

At first, you will probably realize something is wrong because you are seeing small signs of water damage. Maybe there is a bit of mold growing, or maybe you see a couple of water stains on your ceiling. Those are possible indications of a roof leak, but what is the next step? Finding the leak might not be quite as easy as you would think at first. If you think that the roof leak is always going to be located directly above the signs of water damage you have spotted, you are in for a big surprise. In many cases, the water will have traveled quite a complicated route to wind up where you found it.

A Flashlight is Your Friend

As you might guess, you are going to need to visit your attic in order to look for the leaky point in your roof. It is almost certainly going to be dark in the attic, so bring a good flashlight with you for the visit. Of course, you’ll need to be careful while exploring the attic space, since you won’t have much headroom or a solid floor. Shine your light up at the underside of the roof to see if you can spot anything that doesn’t look right.

An Artificial Storm

Ideally, you will be able to spot the leaky spot in your roof during a period of dry weather. That will allow repairs to be made before rougher weather moves in, hopefully limiting the damage that takes place in your home. However, it’s hard to see the spot where a roof might be leaking when it is dry outside. There may not be much evidence to work from, which is why you might want to create your own storm. Have one person spray the roof with a hose while the other person uses a flashlight in the attic to watch for drips. If there is a leak in your roof, this method is likely to help you find it in short order.

Take Action

It’s not worth much to find a leak in your roof if you don’t bother to fix it right away. Once the offending spot is identified, you’ll have two choices – fix it yourself, or bring in a pro. When in doubt, bring in a professional to keep yourself safe and make sure it gets done right. Unless you have experience and know you can do your own repair safely, the cost of a professional contractor will be worth it to both stop the leak and avoid the potential for an accident if you were to climb up on the roof yourself.

damaged residential roof shingles

How to Tell if Your Roof Has Sustained Wind Damage

Even after the recent windstorm here in central Maryland, some wind damage to your roof can still be hard to spot. Depending on the design of your home, it may be difficult – if not impossible – to see all parts of the roof from the ground. Unless you have physical evidence on the ground that damage has occurred, such as shingles which have come down off the roof, you may be unaware that there is a problem. And, of course, that could mean trouble. If the damage is not repaired quickly, the long-term health of your home could be compromised.

If you think that your home needs to be physically hit by something in order to suffer roof damage, you are mistaken. While something like a falling tree or even just a branch can obviously do damage, it is possible for the wind alone to take its toll. Specifically, the edges and corners of the roof are most likely to be damaged by a strong wind, as they will usually experience the more powerful forces.

Take a Look

It may be obvious, but the easiest way to tell if your residential roof as sustained wind damage is to take a look for yourself. Start by seeing what you can see from ground level. Walk around the home and look up to the edges of the roof. Even if you can’t see the surface of the roof, you may be able to spot damage around the sides. For instance, you might be able to see that some shingles are missing or at least curled up on the edges. Also, you should be able to see the top line of the roof from ground level, so look over that area for damage as well.

At some point, it may be necessary to get up onto the roof, or at least a ladder, to get a better look. It should be noted that you should only take this action if you are comfortable doing so and have the proper equipment. If not, call in a professional for help. It is never worth risking your own personal health just to get a look at your roof.

Stay Inside

You can actually evaluate the health of your roof without heading up a ladder, or even going outside. Peek into your attic and shine a light up toward the underside of the roof. What do you see? If you notice discolored spots, those may be water damage. Obviously, this would be cause for concern, and you would want to take action right away.

In the end, any roof damage will likely need to be addressed by a trained professional. The health of your roof is not something you can afford to take chances with, since it is so important with regard to protecting your home as a whole. If you know that you have sustained wind damage on your roof during a recent storm, or even if you just suspect there is a problem, get help and restore your roof to proper condition as soon as possible.

How to Prepare Your Roof for Winter

snow on roof of maryland home
For a roof, winter is the toughest time of year in many parts of the country. If you live in a location that frequently sees winter storms, you should know that your roof is the first line of defense for your home. A healthy, strong roof can go a long way toward keeping that winter weather where it belongs – outside of your house.

But what can you do to make sure your roof is up to the challenge? With winter fast approaching, it is best to act fast. The tips below should help you get ready for the long, cold winter ahead.

Make Sure It Is Clean

One of the easiest things you can do to get your roof ready for the winter is simply to clean it of loose debris that may have built up over the year. Things like leaves and branches can allow mold or mildew to develop if they are left alone while the wet season arrives. Additionally, it is important to check your gutters and downspouts at this time. Those are the pathways used by water to get off of the roof – if they are clogged, the water will have nowhere to go, and it may pool up on the roof, causing serious damage. Of course, you should always exercise great caution when cleaning your roof, or turn the job over to a professional.

Check Around the Edges

If there is anything wrong with your roof, the first sign may come in the form of issues around the edges. Walk the perimeter of your home and look up at the edge of the roof for any signs of trouble. If you do see something that gives you cause for concern, call in a professional who can take a closer look and help you understand what the problem may be – if there is a problem in the first place.

Monitor the Condition of Your Insulation

It is a good idea to check inside the attic of your home to view the condition of your insulation. How does it look? Are there any obvious signs of water making its way into the home? If your insulation is wet, it is almost certain that your roof has sprung a leak in one or more places. With winter approaching, you will want to get this taken care of right away. Don’t just think you can replace the insulation and move on. Rather, it is just as important to address the root cause of the problem so you don’t find yourself right back in the same situation months from now.

Paying attention to the condition of your roof over time is the best way to make sure it can handle the harsh winter months. It is easy to take your roof for granted, but this part of your home can degrade just like anything else. With some simple attention and perhaps a little bit of repair or maintenance, you can brave the cold winter elements knowing that your home is ready for the challenge.

10 Tips to Help Homeowners Find the Best Roofing Contractor

md home roofer
Is your home in need of a new roof? If so, the first task on your to-do list should be to find the best home roofing contractor. While there are plenty of roofing contractors to consider, you will want to make sure that you settle on one who has demonstrated an ability to do this kind of work. To help you find the right person or team for the job, please review the tips below.

#1 – Start with the BBB

While a good rating with the Better Business Bureau is not a sure sign that you are dealing with a great contractor, it is a good place to start. At PJ’s, we are proud to be recognized with an A+ rating by the BBB of greater Maryland! If the contractor you are considering is in good standing with the BBB, you can feel free to move on to other points.

#2 – Find a Designated Contractor

If a contractor has earned a designation from a manufacturer, you can feel good about that contractor’s ability to handle the job. Those designations are not given out for free, as the company needs to prove that they can meet certain requirements in order to gain this endorsement.

#3 – Safety Matters

You always want to place a priority on safety when anyone is working on your home. Should you find that a specific contractor has a questionable record when it comes to safety, you will be better off going in a different direction.

#4 – Ask for Referrals

If you happen to know anyone in your life who has recently had their roof repaired or replaced, ask them about their experience with the company they selected. Or, even if you don’t know anybody in this category, consider asking neighbors for help if you notice they have had work done.

#5 – Insurance Issues

When filing an insurance claim as part of your roofing project, be sure that the contractor is willing to play by the rules with regard to the insurance policy. If, for example, the contractor says that you don’t need to pay your deductible, you should be suspicious.

#6 – Deal with Your Own Insurance Company

Speaking of insurance, you should be dealing with the insurance company personally, not going through the contractor. Not only is this often illegal, but it also doesn’t make any sense. The claim is a matter between you and the insurance company, so you should be the parties involved.

#7 – Watch for Pressure Tactics

There are too many contractors out there to allow yourself to be pressured into a decision by an overaggressive salesperson. If you aren’t yet comfortable with the terms of the contract for this project, don’t sign anything and don’t give in to pressure.

#8 – Study Up

Before you even contact any contractors about this work, do some research and learn about things like roofing materials. If you know your stuff ahead of time, you will be better prepared to negotiate successfully.

#9 – Always Work with Licensed and Insured Contractors

This one is an easy decision. Anytime you are hiring a company to do any kind of work on your home, you should confirm that the contractor is both licensed and insured. It’s just that simple.

#10 – Get a Warranty

Is the labor going to be covered under warranty, in addition to the roofing materials? Be sure to ask this question, and only work with a home roofing contractor who can offer a warranty on their workmanship.

How to Protect Your Home’s Roofing System Against Ice Dams

snowy house roof
Your roof is one of the single most-important parts of your entire house, as it has the job of keeping the weather out of your home year after year. A healthy roof can do wonders for the condition and longevity of your home, while a faulty roof can be an expensive and time-consuming problem to fix.

If you live in a cold part of the world, you will need to worry about the possibility of ice dams forming on your roof in the winter. What is an ice dam? Simply put, an ice dam is an accumulate of ice near the edges of your roof. It is natural for ice to form during the course of a cold winter, and these large chunks are commonly found on many different kinds of residential roofs. However, while they might not look like a big deal from street level, they can actually be extremely harmful if ignored.

A Pooling Problem

The problem with allowing ice dams to exist on your roof is the possibility of water backing up behind those dams during warm parts of the day. For instance, if the temperatures are well below freezing overnight – but warm into the low 40’s during the day – there will be water on your roof that can pile up behind an ice dam. When that happen, the water may work its way back up under your shingles, doing damage to the roof below.

So how can you protect your home from this quiet but serious problem? Surprisingly, one of the best things you can do is to keep your roof as cold as possible in the winter. The water that develops on your roof is often the due to a warm attic, which can head the roof up to a temperature above that of the outside air. This kind of warming from the inside will accelerate the melting of ice and snow on your roof, and you will suddenly have a pool of water that can cause trouble for your structure.

Proper Insulation is Key

To avoid heating your attic during the winter, make sure your insulation is in good shape heading in to the cold season. Most building codes call for at least a foot of insulation in an attic, so check with your local regulations to make sure you are in compliance. By checking on the thickness of your insulation, you can then add more if necessary to keep your attic and roof colder in the winter.

A Manual Fix

If you aren’t able to keep your roof as cold as necessary, or if there is water pooling due to the air warming during the daytime hours, you may need to manually pull snow off of your roof from time to time. Of course, this can be a dangerous job, so be sure to take all necessary precautions, and look into the possibility of purchasing a snow rake which can allow you to do the job while standing on the ground (for a single story home). Never pull snow down toward you while standing on a ladder, and the snow could potentially knock you down.

Ice dams are a serious problem in cold parts of the world, but there are steps that can be taken to prevent them from doing damage to your roof. Plan ahead for this potential issue and you should be able to avoid any costly repairs down the line.