The Essential Roofing, Siding, & Decking Spring Cleaning Checklist

Written by DS-Bahr on . Posted in Uncategorized

Spring has officially arrived in Minnesota, which means warm summer weather and blissful sunny days are just around the corner. After a long, harsh winter, you're probably more than ready to head outside to enjoy barbecues, parties, and relaxing days on the porch.

But before you can really enjoy those barbecues or relax in your yard, you need to do some spring cleaning around your house. Just like the inside of your house needs refreshing this time of year, your home's exterior demands some attention, too.

Your roof, siding, and deck withstood several months of harsh ice storms, violent winds, and heavy snowfall. As a result, they might have accumulated debris or developed cracks. You don't want debris or cracks to compromise your home and affects its value, so we put together the following outdoor spring cleaning checklist to help you out.

Roofing

Your roof takes a beating during the winter. Extreme temperature fluctuations cause your shingles to expand and contract, leading to permanent damage. Heavy snowfall often creates ice dams, which then seep through your roof and warp your home's frame.

Because your roof plays such an important role in your home, you'll need carefully inspect and clean it once winter weather subsides.

1. Sweep Debris from Your Roof

Chances are good that leaves, sticks, and other debris accumulated on your roof during the winter. Because this debris provides a perfect breeding ground for mold, you'll want to remove this debris as soon as the weather permits. Simply sweep it from your roof with a broom.

2. Clean Your Gutters

You may not think of your gutters as part of your roof, but they play a vital role in your roof's well-being. Clogs cause water to back up onto your roof, which could lead to severe leaks and even foundation damage. Use a leaf blower or broom to clear leaves and debris from your gutters. 

3. Inspect Your Shingles

If you have asphalt shingles, look for dark, wet areas. This indicates cracks in the shingles, as well as a potential leak. If you have cedar shakes or wood shingles, look for curled, split, or broken pieces. If you have a slate roof, look for black areas. Dark areas indicate missing slate.

If you find damaged or missing shingles, replace them right away. If you don't feel comfortable replacing them yourself, contact a roofing or construction company in your area as soon as possible. The longer you wait to replace your shingles, the more likely your roof will sustain additional damage.

4. Look for Additional Wear

Even if your shingles look intact, your roof might have suffered damage during the winter. Inspect your roof for areas of heavy wear, especially near valleys next to the gutters. You should also pay close attention to areas near chimneys and vent pipes, as materials in these areas are more prone to damage.

5. Remove Mold

If you detect mold in your gutters or under your shingles, you'll need to remove it right away. First, mix equal parts bleach and warm water in a bucket. Dip a sponge or towel into the solution, then scrub the mold from your shingles. 

Siding

Whether you have wood, brick, or vinyl siding, your home's siding will benefit from regular cleanings. Not only do cleanings help keep your home looking great, they also prolong your siding's life, ultimately saving you money.

Use the following method to clean any type of siding.

1. Mix Your Cleaning Solution

A mixture of water and trisodium phosphate (TSP) is the safest cleaning solution to use on your siding. For best results, combine ½ cup TSP with one gallon of water. You can buy TSP at most hardware and grocery stores.

2. Divide Your Siding into Small Sections

The thought of cleaning all your home's exterior walls might be overwhelming. Make the project more manageable by dividing your siding into small sections that are no bigger than nine square feet.

3. Scrub Your Siding

Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub your siding. After you dip the brush into your cleaning solution, scrub small areas and rinse often. To avoid streaks, scrub from the bottom of your siding and work up.

Decking

You love your deck. It provides the perfect space to relax and read a book, as well as host family get-togethers and neighborhood barbecues. Because you use your deck so much during the summer, it needs to be in tip-top shape.

Here are a few tips to spring clean your deck and everything on it.

Use a pressure washer to blast dirt and grime from your deck's surface. If you don't have a pressure washer, a garden hose will also do the trick. Just be sure to clear all furniture from your deck before you soak it down.

Blast dirt and grime from your non-fabric patio furniture with a garden hose. This includes patio umbrellas and picnic tables.

Clean fabric-containing patio furniture. Start by vacuuming debris from its surface, then scrub caked-on dirt away using a mild detergent. We recommend a mixture of ¾ cup bleach, 1 tablespoon laundry detergent, and one gallon of water.

Outdoor spring cleaning doesn't have to be time consuming or difficult. Use these tips to make cleaning your roof, siding, deck, and gutters a breeze this spring.

When, Why, and How to Maintain Your Gutters

Written by DS-Bahr on . Posted in Gutters

You know your roof needs regular maintenance. After winter or after a heavy storm, you check your shingles to find signs of warping, bending, breakage, and more. If you find any problems, you fix or replace the offending shingle so your roof can stay dry and strong for the rest of the year.

However, if you want to keep your home sturdy and beautiful, you have to go beyond your roof when you perform exterior maintenance. You have to give your gutters a little TLC as well. You may not think of these troughs as important features-after all, they only direct water away from your home-but they play a more vital role than you realize.

We'll tell you more about how your gutters work, why you should maintain them, and when and how to do so below.

Why Your Gutters Need Cleaning

If your home didn't have gutters, where would all the water on your roof go after a storm? It would drip off the eaves and into the ground below. This might not seem like a big deal-won't the water quickly evaporate anyway?

However, if you experience days or weeks of rainstorms without a lot of sun, that water would pool around your home's foundation and seep into your window wells. Eventually, erosion or pressure would cause a leak. That leak wouldn't just undermine your home's structural integrity either. If it becomes large enough, it could flood your basement or crawlspace and destroy everything stored there.

So, as you can see, your gutters perform a critically important function in your home. However, they can't do their job correctly if they fill with leaves and other debris. The debris clogs the drain, which means your gutters overflow with water. During warmer months, this overflow could lead to flooding as outlined above. During the winter, the clog could lead to ice dams that damage your roof.

When to Clean Your Gutters

You can easily prevent the problems illustrated above by keeping your gutters debris free. But how do you know when these features need cleaning? You probably don't have the time to climb a ladder every weekend to check on them, and you might not want to risk your safety that frequently.

Luckily, you don't have to examine your gutters that often, and you don't have to do this chore yourself. You can have a professional do it for you. Call your gutter experts on any of the following occasions:

The beginning of spring after the snow melts off your roof:

The snow may have eroded particulates off your roof or pulled last year's leaves into your gutters. Have your professionals give them a thorough spring cleaning.

The beginning of fall:

Your trees start dropping leaves like crazy in September, so you should clear your gutters before the rains and snows hit. Leaves prove less difficult to remove when dry. And if lots of leaves continue to fall, have your maintenance crew come back once a week to keep your gutters clear.

Any other time of year when the debris in your gutter becomes visible:

A couple leaves won't cause a catastrophe. But if so many items fill your gutter that they become visible from the ground, schedule a cleaning with your preferred professionals.

Follow a similar timetable if you plan to maintain your gutters on your own. Just make sure you have a sturdy ladder and the proper safety equipment, including heavy boots, gloves, and a hard hat.

How to Clean and Repair Your Gutters

Again, you don't have to clean or maintain your gutters by yourself. You can have a professional do it for you. But if you feel confident about your abilities and you have the proper safety equipment, you can do this chore yourself by following these steps:

Put on your safety equipment.

Consider wearing a dust mask if you have particularly full gutters. Gutters often contain spores, dust, and other debris that could make breathing uncomfortable.

Find a buddy to spot you.

You'll need someone nearby to steady the ladder while you work. You'll also need a person to call

to for help in case you fall or otherwise injure yourself.

Use your gloved hands to clear the loose debris like leaves, sports equipment, etc.

Then use a garden trowel to remove dirt and other contaminants.

Spray the gutter clean with the hose.

Leave the roof and dispose of the leaves and other debris.

You can also do simple repairs, like screwing your gutters onto your roof when they come loose. But if your gutters require extensive repairs, you might want to consider calling a professional to replace them.

When to Replace Your Gutters

If, when you or your professionals inspect your gutters, you notice significant rust, wear, corrosion, holes, or cracking, you should probably replace these features instead of repairing them. You need functioning gutters to keep your home safe. So if they can't do their job anymore, have a professional replace them. Newer models resist clogging and wear better than their older counterparts anyway.

 

Whether you prefer DIY projects or professional assistance, use the tips to keep your gutters operational. In turn, they'll keep your home strong and attractive for years to come.

How to Protect Your Deck from These 6 Common Pests

Written by DS-Bahr on . Posted in Decks

You recently installed a deck, and you look forward to the barbecues, parties, and lazy summer evenings you'll spend on it.

However, as you've added patio furniture and decor, you've noticed that your deck attracts more than just human occupants. Insects, rodents, and other pests seem to enjoy it too. And you worry that these pests may ruin your deck or make it dangerous or uncomfortable to use.

Don't surrender your deck to these creatures. Instead, identify the animal invader, call a pest control company for removal, and then fortify your deck against further infiltrations. We'll tell you more about this process below.

Identify the Pest

You'll often find these common pests living on, in, or under your deck.

1. Termites

These insects look like smaller, lighter ants, and they all have wings. When they eat through wood, they create tubes about a pencil's width across. They can cause significant structural damage because they will eat through all the materials in your deck. They can also tunnel through foam, plaster, and other materials to reach wood.

2. Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants look like smaller ants-but they grow much bigger. They come in red or black. Like termites, they also bore holes through wood. They don't eat the wood, but they do like to live in it, and they'll soon make your deck look like Swiss cheese. You'll also see small piles of sawdust and dead insects around your deck.

3. Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees don't cause as much damage as carpenter ants or termites, but they do bore holes in your wood or composite deck. The holes will appear about a half inch in diameter, and they'll look perfectly round. These bees bore into wood or wood-like materials to build their nests.

Even though carpenter bees don't cause as much damage as other pests, they do create a stinging hazard, so you should remove them.

4. Powderpost Beetles

You won't likely see these beetles until they fly around lights late at night. They appear reddish brown, with skinny, flat bodies that grow about a quarter inch long. They also leave sawdust behind, and they create pinhead-sized holes. These beetles will also undermine your deck's structural integrity.

5. Mice and Rats

Rodents like to live in or under decks as well. You'll know you have mice or rats because you'll see their small, grayish bodies darting and scurrying. They also leave small, black, pointed droppings behind. And because they have dirty fur, they create grease trails when they rub against your home's surfaces.

These rodents spell disaster for your deck because they chew on the materials and make them weaker. Mice and rats also carry diseases that could endanger your family.

6. Raccoons, Opossums, and Skunks

These larger rodents cause even bigger problems because they tear through deck materials more quickly. They also carry some of the same diseases that mice and rats do, and they will bite and scratch to defend themselves. So if you see cat-like creatures under your deck, call a pest control expert for assistance.

Fortify Your Deck

Now that you know what kind of pest has invaded your deck, you can take steps to remove it and ensure it never returns. Just make sure you don't eradicate the rodent or insect on your own. Ants and bees will attack if you try to spray them, and you may face legal penalties if you accidentally kill rodents like opossums. Leave the pest removal to a professional.

Once you've removed the pest, you can take the following steps to protect your deck:

If you have a wood deck, seal it with a new protective coat, and add a new layer of paint. A well-maintained deck attracts fewer pests than a poorly maintained one.

Trim all plants away from your deck so pests have nowhere to hide.

Remove any standing water around your deck. Your pests need water to survive, and if they can't access it, then they won't want to make a home under your deck.

Cover the gap between the deck and the ground with a mesh screen. This screen deters rodent pests. You can also seal the gap with concrete or plywood if you want a more thorough deterrent. Put yellow bug lights around the deck to keep insect and spider pests away.

Your pest control or deck expert may also have some more tips for you. For example, if you have raccoons, you should use zip ties to seal your garbage cans. If raccoons can't get to the food inside your garbage cans, they'll leave your yard in favor of a location with better access to food sources.

If pests have damaged your deck, get a deck expert to repair and restore it. If you have further questions about keeping your deck comfortable, safe, and pristine, check out the rest of our blog.

Parties, Pilates, and Campfires, Oh My: 3 Ways to Use Your Deck This Summer

Written by DS-Bahr on . Posted in Uncategorized

You wake up, peek through your eyelids, and catch sight of a few rays of light. You quickly jump up, rush to the window, push it open, and are flooded with the fresh scent of summer. You hear birds chirping and your heart catches in your chest-your favorite season is finally here.

With summer right around the corner, now is the perfect time to plan for upcoming outdoor activities and events. Grab your bathing suit, some suntan lotion, and head to your deck so you can lounge away the day and plan three different ways you can use your outdoor space this summer season.

1. Host a Party

Summer provides the perfect opportunity to gather your friends, neighbors, and family together to celebrate the warmest season of the year. Follow these tips to host one of the most memorable outdoor parties on your deck.

Keep Stress Levels Low and Plan in Advance

Don't wait until the last minute to start planning your party. Make several lists (guest list, shopping list, and to-do list), invite friends to get involved, and split up responsibilities to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Wow Guests with Creative Décor

To some guests, décor is as important as what's on the dinner menu. Set the mood with the following backyard accessories:

  • Lanterns
  • String lights
  • Tiki torches
  • Plants and flowers

You can also add a little personality with artwork. Buy a few canvases and some paint at the craft store and invite your kids to let their creative juices flow onto a blank canvas.

Satisfy Taste Buds with Delicious Grub

It's not a party without food. What's on the menu? Consider the following:

  • Steaks
  • Tacos
  • Fish
  • Grilled pizza

Plan the menu well in advance so you can stock up on all the right ingredients before it's time to party.

Quench Thirst with Unforgettable Drinks

If there's one thing to splurge on, it's drinks. Load your fridge with all sorts of beverages, including the following:

  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Alcohol

Keep your guests happy and the mood light with a Moscow Mule. This cocktail includes:

  • Ginger beer
  • Vodka
  • Lime

First, mix together two parts ginger beer with one part vodka. Add lime to taste.

Set the Mood with Music

Prevent awkward silences with music that will please the entire crowd. Create a playlist with the following songs:

  • "I Started a Joke" by the Bee Gees
  • "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" by Roberta Flack
  • "Born Too Late" by Dent May
  • "Paris 1919" by John Cale
  • "You Do Something to Me" by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra

If you want music to dance along to at your party, browse through dance playlists on iTunes or Spotify so you can keep your guests entertained at your outdoor deck party.

2. Get in Shape

Summer is bathing suit season. Use your deck as an outdoor gym and stay in shape with a combination of the following exercises:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Barre
  • Zumba

If you don't want to do exercises on your deck surface, invest in a yoga mat to avoid splinters.

3. Camp Out

If the great outdoors are calling your name, you can heed its call in the comfort of your own backyard. Use these tips to transform your deck into the perfect outdoor campground.

Create a Campout Atmosphere

First, clean your deck so you don't have to worry about loose nails, loose floorboards, broken lights, or spider webs during your camping extravaganza. Once you've swept, mopped, and dusted, gather the following items:

  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Sleeping bags
  • Fire pit (small grill)

Set up the bedding away from the fire to ensure your family stays safe during your campout.

Create a Campout Menu

Excite your kids with a menu full of campout essentials, including the following:

  • Hotdogs, buns, and condiments (mix it up with onions, barbeque sauce, jalapenos, and banana peppers) Corn on the cob (don't forget the butter, salt, or pepper)
  • Tin foil dinners (stay full on meat, potatoes, onions, peppers, and any other vegetables)
  • S'mores (it's not a campout without plenty of marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers)

You can always add an extra layer of sweet delight to s'mores with a dab of caramel or peanut butter.

Create a Campout Game Plan

When it comes time to campout on the deck with your kids, throw away any notion of bedtime. Instead, stay up late and stay entertained with one-or all-of the following activities:

  • Star gazing
  • Charades
  • Singing
  • Storytelling

Take time to create a campout game plan so you can create fun and lasting memories for your entire family.

Whether you want to host a party, get in shape, or camp out, your deck offers the perfect outdoor space for you to stay entertained all summer long. Use these tips to amp up your summer entertainment. If you want to give your deck a makeover before summer arrives, contact your local deck contractors today.

D.S. Bahr Construction, Inc.
612.722.1448
460 Hoover Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413