Preventative Maintenance

August 5, 2016

Tips for Maintaining and Repairing Wood Decks

Tips for Maintaining and Repairing Wood Decks

When the weather is nice, your deck can be one of the most popular areas for your family to relax.

Whether your deck includes a cook out area with a brightly colored umbrella, surrounds the family pool or overlooks the ocean, you want it to keep looking as fresh and inviting as it did the day you had it installed.

In order to achieve this goal, your deck requires regular maintenance and repair.

Moisture is a Deck’s Enemy

Although your deck will be exposed to elements such as rain or snow, moisture is not its friend. Mud tracked on the deck, leaves that are not removed and spills can all stain or damage your deck. Spill should be cleaned as quickly as possible, just as you would a spill in your home. Sweep or blow fallen leaves from the deck regularly in order to avoid them becoming wet and damaging the flooring. Stuck-on debris can be cleaned with a mixture of household bleach and water. Once each season, have your deck power washed to remove caked on dirt and grime. After a rainstorm, remove any outdoor rugs or other items that may retain moisture and damage the deck underneath.

Returning to Natural Luster

Over time, you may notice that your deck has become dingy, gray and rough. You can return your deck to its natural look with a sander. Simply sand the deck to remove any rough patches and bring out the original color of the wood. Although power washing may also return the deck to its natural color, it may leave rough spots. Use a sander to remove those spots after you complete your power washing.

Seal to Protect

The best way to keep your deck looking as new as the day you installed it is to apply a penetrating sealer each year after cleaning it thoroughly. Be sure the deck is completely dry before applying the sealer and that you have sanded any rough areas. Many of today’s sealers provide UV protection as well as chemicals that prevent the buildup of mildew. Many also repel water. Be sure to choose a sealant that is meant for the type of wood in your deck as each type of wood requires a different sealer. If your deck is faded, consider using a sealer with stain included to add color and protect the wood at the same time.

Warped Boards and Nails

If your deck was built using nails, consider replacing the nails with screws. As wood swells with temperature changes and humidity, nails may become loose. When the nails loosen, replace them with screws which will fasten the deck boards more tightly. Even chemically treated wood can warp over time, so be sure to replace any warped deck boards. Warped boards present a tripping hazard and should be corrected as soon as possible. Be sure to secure railings and fix any posts that have fallen as well.

These tips can help keep your deck looking as beautiful as it did the day it was built. In addition, they will keep your deck safe, allowing your family and friends to enjoy it for many years to come. For more information on deck maintenance and repair, contact Tri-County Exteriors today.

June 23, 2014

The Best Time to Renovate the Outside of Your Home

While it may be tempting to prepare for home renovation after the last snow has melted, there really is no “best” time to get started. The truth is, renovation and preventative maintenance begins as easily as a quick walk around the home exterior. You can complete this task at any time during the year, and you should really perform a walk-around examination a few times per year. Remember, problems that you catch early can be far less expensive to fix than a problem that sits and spreads!

To begin the process, you need to identify which areas of the house you want to renovate. You may have an idea already, but take some time to systematically examine the house. Bring a notepad and briefly jot down any issues as you see them. It’s important not to forget any problems you identify!

Start by really taking in the big picture. Stand as far back from your house as you need to easily see the entire structure. Take a look at the general shape of the house and make sure that all of the lines look straight and clean. For example, chimneys should be vertical and not leaning, shingles should be neatly lined with none missing, and windowsills should not be sagging. See if anything stands out. If possible, repeat this step for every side of the house. This is really the best time to check for roof deterioration; it may be difficult to see once you move closer to the home.

After you’ve checked the whole house from afar, it’s time to move in. Check to see if there are any holes or cracks in the siding and that windows and doors are well sealed. Check joints and corners and see if any will require repairs. Dents, scratches, scrapes, and holes should be especially apparent close up. Make note of which areas need serious attention and which just need a coat of touch up paint.

The entire process shouldn’t take much time, but you will probably end up with a list of items that need attention. Be sure not to let problems sit unattended! Remember that preventative maintenance can keep a small problem from becoming a disaster. Be sure to check out as your regional experts on exterior home maintenance. We can work together to make sure that your home is in great conditions long into the future!

June 6, 2014

How to Clean and Care for Your Home’s Siding

With a bit of preventative maintenance, your home’s siding could be trouble-free for 50 years or more. And that means you won’t have to replace siding as often.
Cleaning siding removes the dirt and mildew that shortens the life of siding. A clean house protects your investment, too. Some real estate appraisers say good curb appeal can add 5%-10% to the value of your house.

Cleaning All Types of Siding

All types of siding benefit from an annual cleaning to remove grit, grime, and mildew. Cleaning an average-sized house may take you and a friend every bit of a weekend. Here’s how to do it:

1. Start with a bucket of warm, soapy water. Mix 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate (TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers) with 1 gallon of water.

2. Divide your siding into 10-foot sections. Scrub each section using a soft-bristled brush attached to a long handle. Work from bottom to top to avoid streaking, and rinse often. (For two-story homes, you’ll be using a ladder, so keep safety foremost.)

What’s a Professional Cleaning Cost?

If you don’t have the time — or the inclination — you can have your house professionally cleaned for $300-$500. A professional team will use a power washer and take less than a day.

You can rent a power washer to do the job yourself for about $75/day, but beware if you don’t have experience with the tool. Power washers can strip paint, gouge softwoods, loosen caulk, and eat through mortar. Also, the tool can force water under horizontal lap joints, resulting in moisture accumulating behind the siding.

A siding professional has the expertise to prevent water penetration at joints, seams around windows and doors, and electrical fixtures.

Inspecting Siding for Damage

All siding: Siding is vulnerable to water infiltration where it butts against windows, doors, and corner moldings. Look for caulk that has cracked due to age or has pulled away from adjacent surfaces, leaving gaps. Reapply a color-matched exterior caulk during dry days with temperatures in excess of 65 degrees for maximum adhesion.

Wood siding: Check for chipped or peeling paint, and cracked boards and trim.

Stucco: Be on the lookout for cracks and chips.

Brick: Look for crumbling mortar joints.

You’ll want to repair any defects before cleaning. The sooner you make repairs, the better you protect your house from moisture infiltration that can lead to dry rot and mold forming inside your walls.

Repairing Wood, Vinyl, and Fiber-Cement Siding

Repairs to wood, vinyl, and fiber-cement siding require the expertise to remove the damaged siding while leaving surrounding siding intact. Unless you have the skills, hire a professional carpenter or siding contractor. Expect to pay $200-$300 to replace one or two damaged siding panels or pieces of wood clapboard.

Repairing Brick and Mortar

Crumbling and loose mortar should be removed with a cold chisel and repaired with fresh mortar — a process called repointing. An experienced do-it-yourselfer can repoint mortar joints between bricks, but the process is time-consuming. Depending on the size of the mortar joints (thinner joints are more difficult), a masonry professional will repoint brick siding for $5-$20/sq. ft.

Efflorescence — the powdery white residue that sometimes appears on brick and stone surfaces — is the result of soluble salts in the masonry or grout being leached out by moisture, probably indicating the masonry and grout was never sealed correctly.

Remove efflorescence by scrubbing it with water and white vinegar mixed in a 50/50 solution and a stiff bristle brush. As soon as the surface is clear and dry, seal it with a quality masonry sealer to prevent further leaching.

Persistent efflorescence may indicate a moisture problem behind the masonry. Consult a professional building or masonry contractor.

Repairing Stucco

Seal cracks and small holes with color-matched exterior acrylic caulk. Try pressing sand into the surface of wet caulk to match the texture of the surrounding stucco. Paint the repair to match.

To repair larger holes and cracks, you may want to call in a pro who’s familiar with stucco work. A professional charges $200-$1,000 for a repair job, depending on the size of the damage. Repainting the patch to match your siding will be up to you.

Removing Mildew

Stubborn, black spotty stains are probably mildew. Dab the area with a little diluted bleach — if the black disappears, it’s mildew. Clean the area with a solution of one part bleach to four parts water. Wear eye protection and protect plants from splashes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Riha John (2014 January) How to Clean and Care for Your Home’s Siding. Retrieved on June 2, 2014 from


March 3, 2014

The Slackers’ Guide to Spring Home Maintenance


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Gutters do their job best when clean. Check yours for foliage build-up, particularly if trees hover over the roof. The rainy season is a prime time to ensure all drainage areas remain unblocked by leaves and/or debris. Trapped moisture can leave a house susceptible to moss and mildew and cause major damage to your roof and walls. While you’re at it, make sure the downspout is clean and pointing 2-2-1/2 feet away from foundation walls.

Retain the Roof Repairing-Roofing-5368177-s4x3_lg-300x225


It’s easy to take for granted the one thing that shields you from the elements. But doing so could cost you unnecessary repair costs. Be diligent about roof maintenance. After the next rainy day, inspect your ceiling for wet spots. Ask a licensed professional to inspect your roof for wear and tear. “If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, it’s time to replace the roof,” according to Dan Cornwell, president of CC&L Roofing in Portland, Ore.

Check Your Paint Job Pressure-Washing-5368177-s4x3_lg-300x225


Look for chipped, cracked paint along the exterior of your home. “The worse thing you can do is leave wood exposed, because that’s when it will begin to rot,” says Brian Gummel, president of The Painting Company in Edgewater, Md. Scrape off any failing paint. Sand it down so there are no rough edges, prime the bare wood surface and paint it with a high quality paint product. Don’t wait until siding accumulates too much dirt. Brighten up the house with a good power washing.

Cut Shrubs and Trees Trimming-Shrubs-5368177-s4x3_lg-300x225

Trim overgrown trees and hedges away from your home to discourage the growth of mildew and moisture. Branches should be at least 7 feet away from the exterior of your house to prolong the life of your siding and roof. Get rid of out-of-control vines, as they can help crack siding and allow moisture and pests entry into your home.

Love Your Lawn

Rake up the excess leaves you didn’t get around to last fall. Too many can suffocate your grass and stop it from growing. “Pull up weeds, and remove foilage from the lawn, shrubs and any plants,” says Neal Julien, landscaping expert with Neal Works Landscaping in Capitol Heights, Md. Pull up dead flowers and replace them with a low-maintenance variety such as pansies, begonias or mums.




Keep the Air Fresh Changing-Filter-5368177-s4x3_lg-300x225

With warm, sticky days ahead, do yourself a favor and give your air conditioning unit a little TLC. Not only does it cool you down, but an efficient air conditioner removes moisture and humidity from your home, which in excess, can damage its foundation. So if you aren’t changing air filters monthly, start now. A unit free of dust and dirt runs more efficiently, saving you money on your energy bill. While you’re there, check hose connections for leaks. Make sure the drain pans are draining freely. If you suspect a problem, contact a certified technician.

Watch Windows and Doors Windows-5368177-s4x3_lg-300x225

Investigate all doors and windows for leaks and drafts, particularly near the corners. Look for peeling and chipping paint, which can signal water intrusion. Seal any open areas between the frame and the wall to keep out water, which can deteriorate building materials. Neglecting these tasks can open up potential for environmental hazards like mold growth, experts say.

Control Pests Exterminator-5368177-s4x3_lg-300x225

Keep garbage and debris under control around the exterior of your home. “Do what you would do inside, and get rid of junk,” says Genma Holmes, owner of Holmes Pest Control in Hermitage, Tenn. Inside, check the house for entrances and gaps where mice and insects may be tempted to come through. Seal up cracks, even if you just did so in the winter. Mulching the yard this spring? Use a liner underneath. “It’s good to keep a barrier between your mulch and your home,” she says.

Take a Peek at the Plumbing Plumbing-5368177-s4x3_lg-300x225

Except for a coffee maker, anything dripping in your house is a bad sign. Check for leaking faucets or sweating pipes, clogged drains and faulty water drainage systems. On laundry day, look at the washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or dampness. Check under the kitchen sink for leaks, and make note of wetness around the dishwasher. Inspect your water heater for leaks and corrosion.

Tackle the Tiles

While you’re in spring-cleaning mode, pay attention to worn grout between floor tiles in the bathroom or kitchen. A small crack in the grout or caulk can lead to an expensive repair later. If necessary, re-seal as soon as possible. For the bath, get into the habit of wiping down shower walls and tub after each use to eliminate soap and scum build-up. Gilliam Stacy (2014 March) The Slackers’ Guide to Spring Home Maintenance. Retrieved on March 3, 2014 From For more information about spring home maintenance please click the button below. Contact Us

January 20, 2014

Gutters got you down? Try these repair tips!

During the Winter, rainstorms and wind can take a toll on anyone’s gutter system. Using a few proactive techniques and preventative measures, homeowners can avoid having to make a major roof repair that could cost thousands of dollars. The following tips are great for any buildings that have to deal with flooding and falling leaves:

Guards, screens, and covers keep a gutter system from clogging.

There are several types of guards, screens, and covers that provide protection from clogged gutters. Reverse curve style guards utilize a small opening that lets water through while pushing leaves over the edge of the roof. For people in climates with snow or freezing temperatures, nylon guards prevent ice build-up and avoid the warping or cracking other types of guards might experience. Mesh guards allows water to filter through while keeping leaves out; however, decomposing leaves, dirt, and other particles can clog the filters. Finally, foam gutter guards work much like mesh, letting water seep through without the plant matter.

A gutter cleaning service can stop damage before it happens

Unfortunately, even the best filters can clog if not maintained. There’s cause for hope, however: professional gutter services are a great resource for taking care of investments in roof protection. Bringing in professionals allows for efficient repairs that will extend the life of gutters and keeps drainage systems flowing smoothly. A professional cleaning saves homeowners in the long run.

Bi-annual gutter checks are essential

Never underestimate how many leaves can fall on a single Autumn day. Checking gutters at least twice annually makes refuse removal much more manageable, and helps home owners to catch small clogs before there is any damage to the gutters structure, like bends and tears in the metal. If damage is found, frequent gutter checks means a gutter cleaning service can take care of the problem for the homeowner before the issue becomes costly.


Finally, getting on a ladder isn’t without some inherent risk. When climbing a ladder, having another person to spot the climber can prevent serious injury. Making sure the ladder is on stable, preferably dry ground can prevent a hefty hospitable bill later on, not to mention damage to the roof. Responsible homeowners should be proactive about their safety, but also about their gutter’s health. Following these simple tips can help you save money and avoid an unnecessary roof repair.

To learn more about our gutter repair service click contact us. Contact Us

November 15, 2013

How to Winterize Your Home

As winter approaches, it is time to take steps to prepare your home for the coming colder months. Winter brings with it freezing temperatures, heavy snow, ice and high energy bills. While you cannot do anything about the weather, you can significantly reduce those bills by winterizing your home.

Here are some great energy saving tips for winter:

Heating System Inspection

Contact a local HVAC professional and schedule an inspection of your furnace. The cost of the inspection is worth it in the amount of energy savings you receive. The professional will give it a full cleaning, tune-up and check it for safety. Request that the furnace filter be changed or have a permanent electrostatic filter installed.

In addition to the furnace, have the HVAC expert inspect and clean the heating ducts. Duct leaks allow up to 60% of heated air to escape before it reaches any rooms.

Install Storm Doors and Windows

Achieve a big boost in energy conservation by installing storm proof doors and windows in the home. They prevent warm air from escaping while stopping cold air from entering. Earn a federal tax credit for taking this step.

Insulate Pipes

When temperatures drop down to frigid levels the intense cold causes water pipes to freeze. This causes a loss of hot water until they thaw. Prevent this common problem by wrapping pipes in foam insulation designed for this purpose.

Turn Down the Water Heater

Easily save money by turning down the water heater to 120 degrees. This reduces energy costs while water temperature remains comfortable.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Protectors

Winter is the time of year when there is a rise in house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Fires and gasses engulf homes in many cases because people are trying to stay warm. Prevent potential tragedies by checking smoke alarms to ensure they are working. Install and inspect carbon monoxide detectors. These devices are life savers.

Clean Out Gutters

Winterizing your home applies to the outside area too. During the winter, gutters collect debris, rain, snow and ice. Clogged gutters causes water to
leak into the house. This ruins ceilings, walls and leads to flooding. Thoroughly clean gutters.

Trim Trees

An often overlooked task is tree branch trimming. Branches that are too close to the home or car are an accident waiting to happen. Heavy snow and ice accumulates on branches during storms. Prevent property damage by trimming branches.

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