Archive for April, 2010

April: Greet the Warmer Weather with a Healthy Home

Posted on 09 April 2010 | Category: Tips

At last! Spring is here and Chicagoland is slowly but surely prying itself loose from winter’s icy grip. Winter’s legacy endures, however – in the home damage caused by snow, extreme cold and freeze/thaw cycles. Checking for and fixing the myriad little problems cold weather leaves in its wake can ensure your home heads into the warm months ready for whatever spring, summer and fall throw its way. Here is this month’s to-do list.

April To-Dos:

web_artCheck Sliding Doors and Windows
Winter can be tough on sliding doors. If yours isn’t operating smoothly, check the track for buildup of dirt and other debris. Sliding doors and windows have drain holes to allow the release of rainwater and condensation. Like the tracks themselves, those holes can get filled with detritus, letting dirt and water accumulate, damaging the track system and allowing water to get inside your house and damage adjacent floors and walls. Sliding doors also have an adjustment mechanism that allows for the balancing of the heavy glass. If it’s not calibrated it will not function properly. Another reason sliding doors or windows may not be operating properly is because track rollers are worn out and need to be replaced.

web_art2Turn on Your Water
It’s almost time to start watering the lawn, washing down the driveway and cleaning the dirt from your siding. So with the danger of another deep freeze largely behind us, mid-April is a good time to turn on your outside water source.

Check and Seal Exterior Penetrations
Every house has several “penetration points,” from A/C hoses to HVAC exhaust vents, dryer vents and more. The freeze/thaw cycle can cause the seals around these points to crack and allow bugs, rodents and other creepy crawlies an entryway into your home.

web_art3Examine Decks and Play Equipment
Both decks and children’s play equipment can suffer over the winter from their constant exposure to extreme weather. Look at both closely for signs of deterioration or damage. Check your deck for loose boards or rotting, and examine the railing system for any loose boards or connections. Tighten screws and railing bolts and hammer down any exposed nails. If needed clean and reseal. Sometimes decks can be refurbished WITH new decking materials – there are many new materials available today that can revive the look and feel of your deck. Children’s outdoor play equipment should be checked for loose connections or rot at soil level. Also, look for splinters and loose and/or exposed metal and hardware.

Water-ize Your Home for Spring and Beyond
In this issue, we feature an interview with plumbing expert Mike Kerrigan, who offers up several easy tips for keeping water from becoming a problem for your home as we move into warmer, and rainier, weather. Check it out.

Have a question about these tips? Need repairs or maintenance to get your home ready for the warmer weather? Talk to Get Dwell and ask about our April specials, which are:

10% off deck repair and new deck projects

Design on Deck

Posted on 09 April 2010 | Category: Featured Projects

web_art_houseMike Harper and his family had lived with a small, increasingly tired-looking deck on the back of his Arts & Crafts home for 20 years. After years of enduring long Chicago winters, they hoped to enjoy the warmer months even more. Finally, they hired Get Dwell to design and build a deck with the added room they wanted and that would work better as part of the yard.

“We told them what we wanted generally and they sketched it out,” Harper says. “They created an interpretation of their own, one that picked up elements of our house.”

web_art_deck6The goal was to borrow Art & Crafts features of the home to avoid the “off-the-rack” look common to many decks while accommodating all the features that the Harpers wanted.

“Most people just take what’s available at the home center and build with no regard to how the house looks,” says Greg Vereschagin, a Project Manager with Get Dwell. “A gifted carpenter, however, can build a deck that works in partnership with the house and gives the project a feeling of wholeness.”

web_art_deck2“Their design isn’t boxy at all,” Harper says. “There are angled edges and a lot of tapered features that draw from the design of our window treatments.”

Harper says he also appreciates the sturdiness of the deck.

“I really liked the workmanship they put into it,” he says. “It’s extremely strong, and it just looks great. We’re very, very happy with it and expect to enjoy it for many years to come.”

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

Posted on 09 April 2010 | Category: General

web_art_mikeThe average Midwestern home has lots of enemies — extreme temperatures, violent wind and lightning events, and even animals looking for a safe place to avoid the bad weather. But no foe is more troublesome than good, old H2O. Water might be an essential component of life, but it can spell big trouble for the life of your house.

With spring — and spring rains — upon us, Mike Kerrigan of F.J. Kerrigan Plumbing in Wilmette, recommends that homeowners take some simple steps to make sure your house’s several watersheds are working at peak effectiveness.

web_art_rain2Job number one? Ensuring your roof drainage system is clean and functional after winter’s cold.

“Runoff from the roof is a home’s largest watershed,” Kerrigan says. “Homeowners need to make sure downspouts are cleared, that downspouts haven’t pulled away from the house and that downspout extensions that take water away from the house haven’t broken or fallen off.”

Kerrigan says it’s also important to check all drains around your property — in outdoor stairwells, driveways and elsewhere — to ensure they’re clean of debris and working properly.

web_art_rainHomeowners should also look for evidence of ponding next to the house. During freeze/thaw cycles, standing water can lead to cracking around the foundation, in window wells, and in pavement that abuts the house. Make sure window wells haven’t pulled away from the house and that caulk seals designed to keep water out of pavement joints are in good repair.

Kerrigan also recommends that homeowners have their storm sewers rodded once a years to clear out debris and tree roots.

“The spring brings new tree root growth,” Kerrigan says. “They seek out water, and the water flow through storm sewers is a good source. They can cause a lot of blockage in the sewer which can lead to slower drainage or an outright blockage.”

web_art_rain3Another essential spring to-do is checking sump pumps are in good working order and ready for the extra burden of spring rains.

“Most sump pumps don’t do much work in the winter,” Kerrigan says. “So they need to be tested in the spring to make sure they’re working.

Another aspect of sump pump maintenance is making sure battery backup systems are changed and ready. Kerrigan’s company even provides load tests to check the overall health of those batteries. Homeowners need to be sure there’s water in wet cell batteries, because it can evaporate during the dry winter months.

Water can be a pernicious foe, especially at this time of year. If you’d like a spring water-protection check-up for your home, or need repairs to cracks and other damage that can effect the health of your home’s watersheds, call Get Dwell.