Exterior Components

Home Inspectors Advice On Cleaning Oil Stains From Concrete

Removing Oil stains from your concrete flooring can be easy. You can use commercial cleaners, a strong detergent, or dry Portland cement to remove them. Some products you may already have in your own home, other products may need to be purchased from your local Rochester or Southeastern MN hardware or automotive store.

Home Inspector Digs Up The Dirt On Concrete Driveway

There are several recommendations to cleaning your concrete driveway. One of the quickest and easiest ways to clean it is using a high pressure water washer. You can rent a heavy duty model with a wide sweeping tip and get the job done quickly and efficiently. Dirt and grime are removed amazingly quick.

Home Inspection Exposes Deteriorated Chimney Cap

Home inspector demonstrates deteriorated chimney cap and mortar

Home inspector demonstrates deteriorated chimney cap and mortar

After years and years of exposure to the elements, the mortar and wash cap around your tile chimney top can start to crack and deteriorate. These types of defects should be noted by your home inspector at the time of your home inspection. 

Cracks in your chimney cap should be caulked or sealed in order to prevent damage form freeze/that cycles during the harsh Rochester MN weather.  When water is trapped in the masonry or mortar joints, freezing literally starts to break the chimney apart. 

Small cracks can be sealed with masonry caulk, or silicone.  The best choice would be a urethane or one part epoxy product.

After inspecting your chimney mortar and cap for cracks and deterioration, clean the cracks with a brush or air spray.  Fill the cracks with caulk and/or sealant.  Caulk should only be used if the cracks are relatively small.  You should inspect your chimney cap at least once a year.  If it is too high or dangerous for you to attempt yourself, contact a local Rochester MN  chimney contractor to perform an inspection and repairs.

Larger cracks or major chimney repairs should be handled by professional masons or certified chimney sweeps.  If the chimney cap is in real bad shape, the long term solution would be to have the cap replaced with poured concrete.  The concrete mix used should be formulated to withstand the weather extremes and moisture.  Caps should have adequate expansion joints between the concrete and the clay chimney flue tile.  This expansion joint should be sealed after the chimney cap is cured.  Pre cast chimney caps may also be available in various sizes from you local chimney contractor.

Home Inspectors Discuss When To Seal Pressure Treated Wood

It is recommended you seal pressure-treated wood used for decking or other outdoor projects. You should do this as soon as the lumber is dry.  Pressure-treated wood is treated to resist rot and insects but is not resistant to moisture and sun damage. Applying a sealer will help prevent the penetration of moisture and stop cracks, swelling, and splits thereby increasing the value and longevity of your decking. If you use a  pigmented stain/sealer, you can add color and slow the sun damage that would turn the surface gray. You can determine when to apply the sealer, place a few drops of water on the wood. If the water is quickly absorbed, the wood is dry and ready to be sealed. If the water beads up on the surface, the wood is still too wet to seal. It can take several months for the wood to dry out. You will need to repeat the treatment every few years to prolong the life and appearance of the wood.

Before sealing a deck you must clean it. Choose a cleaner that matches the brand of finish you plan to use. If there are any dark gray mildew stains, add laundry bleach to the solution.  Pressure washing is a good option but you should be very careful not to damage the wood. Cedar is particularly soft and can be damaged by too much pressure from your sprayer.  Scrubbing the decking with a stiff brush is recommended.  If you notice dirt and other debris stuck between the deck boards, you can easily remove this material with an old hand saw. You literally saw the dirt out of the grooves and increase the spacing slightly as you saw.

When should you refinish a deck?  Upon inspection of your deck, you will know it is time to refinish a deck when the wood looks worn, dirty and lackluster. The recommended application of sealer is with a "rough surface brush" to ensure it gets into all the cracks and pores of the wood.  Attaching the brush to a broom handle will make the application a bit easier. Apply the finish so it will all soak into the wood and not pool on the surface. It should not dry as a tick surface that can peel and be damaged easily.  

Weather can be harsh in Southeastern MN, so it is a good idea to maintain proper water resistance. By doing so, you will enjoy many years of use while gaining value in your home. Contact your local Rochester MN area building supply store for more valuable tips regarding maintenance of your home.

Home Inspection Company Discusses Patching Rotted Wood

Wood rot on windows, doors and frames can be a big problem. The humidity in Southeastern Minnesota summers and the addition of humidifiers set too high in airtight homes during the winter can cause windows of your home to collect moisture, and damage your door and window frames causing the wood to rot.

Rochester MN Home Inspector Explains Drainage Around Home

Most home inspections find that the dampness in basements can usually be traced back to lack of gutters and downspouts and/or poor drainage at the foundation. By correcting above-ground problems you can help to prevent structural damage to your home, as well as dry up those basement damp spots.

Rochester MN Home Inspectors Discussion On Avoiding Home Repair Scams

Your doorbell rings and you aren't expecting company. You go to the door and there stands a salesman or contractor. It's that time of year here in the Rochester and Southeastern MN area where the roofing contractors show up after a storm, and the driveway sealers want to give you a deal on your driveway.

Rochester MN Home Inspector Discusses Building A New Deck

The backyard deck tops the charts when it comes to home improvements. There are an estimated four million new decks and 40 million remodeled decks gracing today's homes built annually in the U.S.  This rising trend has led manufacturers to offer a wider variety of deck materials, styles, and options with overwhelming choices. While wood has traditionally won the popularity contest in the Rochester area for decks due to its natural appearance, vinyl is becoming a choice material for outdoor home entertaining due to its combination of carefree maintenance, aesthetics, and value. Vinyl isn't just for windows and siding anymore. Why are more people using vinyl when building a new deck? Experts in Southeastern Minnesota say that one big reason is time. Vinyl decks are virtually maintenance-free. A yearly power-wash to will help maintain a vinyl deck, whereas wood fades and deteriorates. Wood also requires costly regular stain and sealant applications. Unlike wood or composite, vinyl is color-fast and non-porous, so dirt and stains don't collect to compromise appearance. Vinyl decks retain their original fresh appearance for many decades.

When shopping for the right deck supplier, keep several things in mind. Vinyl deck systems vary with suppliers. Find a supplier with a complete vinyl package that includes not only basic deck materials, but compatible vinyl rails, posts, and trim to create a completed look that adds curb appeal to your home.  Many companies offer nice looking and functional vinyl deck solutions which help homeowners create stunning outdoor entertaining spaces. Do your research and find a reputable outdoor vinyl decking expert that will meet your needs.

Homeowners today want low-maintenance, natural-looking alternatives to wood. Vinyl deck systems can have the look of wood without the hassles of maintenance. Vinyl withstands heavy use and elements for a lifetime of value and leisure.

When inspecting a deck during a home inspection I look to see that the desk is securely attached to the structure, and properly flashed.  I also inspect the support structure, (posts, beans and joists), to ensure that they are properly constructed.  If the deck has stairs, it is important that they are sturdy and that the railings are sturdy.  Deck, and stair railings should have gaps no larger than 4" to prevent small children from slipping through or getting stuck.  Railings should also be firmly secured to the deck framing structure.