While a deck can add style and a comforting place to entertain, it is far from a maintenance free addition. The proper maintenance is necessary to protect the life and appearance of your deck.
It is a common misconception that pressure treated wood, which is the wood most often used for decks, requires little maintenance. The pressure treating process involves the injection of chromated copper arsenate into the wood cells. Copper acts as a fungicide, while arsenic is an insecticide. While these chemicals protect against insects and fungus, they leave the surface vulnerable to the effects of rain and sun. Even redwood and cedar, two other common woods used for decks, can be damaged by the elements.
One of the most common consequences of exposure to rain and sun is cracked wood. As water penetrates the wood cells, they expand. When the water evaporates, the wood cells begin to shrink. Repetitive expansion and contraction of the wood ultimately results in cracked boards.
Newly installed wood should be protected as soon as possible. It is not necessary to allow the wood to “weather” or “season”. Unprotected exposure to the elements, for even a few weeks, can result in damage to the wood.
Preventing water from penetrating the wood surface can greatly extend the life of the wood, as well as add to its attractiveness. There are many products on the market for protecting exterior wood surfaces. These range from paints and stains, to clear wood preservatives and water repellents.
As with any type of coating , proper preparation is essential. A clean, dry surface is necessary for proper adhesion. Proper preparation involves removing dirt, mildew, stains and wood fibers damaged by UV light. If these deposits are not removed prior to applying a finish, both adhesion and appearance of the finish may be diminished.
Many products are available for cleaning decks. Using a pressure washer to clean a wood deck is a huge mistake in my opinion. High pressure streams of water easily erode the soft light colored spring wood that is found in between the darker bands of summer wood on each piece of lumber. So much soft wood can be eroded by a pressure washer that sharp slivers of wood were left behind. If you use a pressure washer, make sure you use a very delicate end spray.
Most can be applied with a pump type sprayer or a mop. Most products on the market contain either sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) or oxalic acid,
If you want to make a big mistake, then use chlorine bleach to clean your deck! In my opinion, it is the absolute worst ingredient to apply to a wood deck. Chlorine bleach, better identified on deck cleaning product labels as sodium hypochlorite, removes the natural color from your wood, it destroys the lignin or glue that holds together the wood deck fibers, is toxic to surrounding vegetation, and is corrosive to all metal fasteners and components that hold your deck together.
A far better wood deck cleaner is oxygen bleach .
This powdered product when mixed with water releases non-toxic oxygen ions that kill mildew and algae. In addition, the foaming oxygen bleach loosens grey weathered wood fibers and dirt from the deck surface. In the process, it does not remove natural wood color, nor does it hurt nails and joist hangers. Possibly one of oxygen bleach’s best attributes is that it will not harm plants, vegetation or you.
I have found that the best way to clean a wood deck is to mix the powdered oxygen bleach with warm water. Once the powder is dissolved, you liberally apply the solution to the wood surface. It immediately foams up as the oxygen ions attack the mildew, algae and dirt. I prefer to let the solution sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Using a scrub brush on a pole or a large push broom to gently scrub the surface to lift wood fibers and dirt.
To complete the cleaning process you simply use a regular garden hose to rinse away all the traces of dirt and grime.
The most effective protection for decks occurs when the product penetrates the surface. Film forming products, such as paints, lay on the surface of the wood and have a tendency to blister, peel, and mar when used on horizontal surfaces.
The three most common products for protecting decks are water repellents (also called water sealers), clear wood finishes, and semi-transparent stains. The first two products are generally clear, penetrating coatings. Semi-transparent stains work much like water repellents, but also contain pigments to import color to the wood surface.
When selecting a coating for wood surfaces, three things should be considered: water repellency, mildew resistance, and weathering resistance. Water repellency prevents moisture from penetrating the wood fibers and causing the expansion and contraction of those fibers. Mildew resistance will retard the growth of damaging mold spores. The higher quality products contain UV blockers, which not only extend the life of the coating, but also prevent UV damage to the wood fibers. UV damage usually causes a graying of wood fibers.
With proper care, your deck can be an attractive and valuable addition to your home for years. Choosing a contractor with the knowledge and skills to properly prepare the surface and apply the proper products is the first step in protecting the life and appearance of your deck. If you hire a contractor you might have just learned more then the contractor know themselves.
Perhaps one of the most practical ways to add a bit of character to the home is through the addition of a canopy. These decorative accents are available in a number of styles and can be fitted over doors, windows, patios and many more. Not only do they look good, but they also have a number of practical purposes as they can offer protection to you and your home in a number of circumstances. Here are a few reasons your home could benefit from a canopy
No matter what the style of your home is, you should be able to find a canopy to suit.… Read the rest
A moisture meter is a device designed to measure the moisture content of various building materials, such as roofing, siding, insulation, drywall, plaster, wood, tile and fiberglass. Structural and safety hazards, such as mold, rot and decay are all potential consequences of elevated moisture levels in these materials. An inspector can use a moisture meter to locate moisture that would not otherwise be apparent.
Here are a few ways that inspectors may find moisture meters useful:
•A moisture meter can be used to determine whether a material is moist enough to allow mold to grow. Mold will begin to accumulate on surfaces that contain approximately 20% moisture, although this value varies based on vapor pressure and other factors.… Read the rest
When I decided to become a home inspector, I got into a habit of inspecting things everywhere I went. I honestly cannot help myself anymore, it’s just what I do. Being a father and just loving kids in general, I started noticing things when I would go to playgrounds in the Arlington, Mansfield and Burleson areas with my own kids or with my nieces and nephews that worried me about their safety. I recently pulled some information from the CDC website I thought I would share to remind parents of how important it is to keep you children safe from serious injury.… Read the rest
FORT WORTH DALLAS HOME INSPECTOR ON LEAKING A/C DUCTS.
CENTRAL HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEMS USE AN AIR DISTRIBUTION OR DUCT SYSTEM TO CIRCULATE HEATED AND/OR COOLED AIR TO ALL THE CONDITIONED ROOMS IN A HOUSE. EVEN WHEN PROPERLY DESIGNED, DUCT SYSTEMS MUST BE INSTALLED CORRECTLY TO BE EFFICIENT, MAINTAIN UNIFORM TEMPERATURES THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE, OPERATE QUIETLY, AND NOT ADVERSELY IMPACT COMFORT OR INDOOR AIR QUALITY
AT LEAHY’S INSPECTIONS WE LOOK THE SYSTEM OVER AND IF THE DUCT WORK IS BAD AND LEAKING, I MAKE THE RECOMMENDATION TO REPAIR OR REPLACE IT.
MAKE SURE DUCTS ARE PROPERLY SEALED AND INSULATED IN ALL NON-AIR-CONDITIONED SPACES RUNNING FROM OUR AIR CONDITIONERS AND HEATING SYSTEMS.… Read the rest
When people think about blood sucking insects, they first picture a mosquito or tick. Did you know bed bugs are also blood suckers. The tiny, sneaky insects are spreading so rapidly across the United States that almost no region or area is unbitten, a new survey suggests. The United States has seen a 50-fold increase in bed bug infestations over the last five years, according to the National Pest Management Association. An entomologist told MSNBC, “It’s like the return of the wooly mammoth,” as many of his peers had previously never seen a single bed bug in their careers. The outbreak has affected most parts of North America and Europe, especially in urban areas.… Read the rest
Stainless steel has become very popular in many households these days. If you have this metal alloy that has become popular for sinks and appliances, you have a great surface that doesn’t corrode or rust easily. Stainless steel is easy to sanitize and clean. It actually isn’t stain-proof, it simply stains less than other steel. Chemical residues, dirty water, and even hard water can leave stains and spots on stainless steel. It can also be dented and scratched fairly easily. Manufacturers are now offering new types of finishes that diminish scratching and fingerprints.
Anyone with an appliance with a stainless steel finish, such as a dishwasher, refrigerator or oven, likes to see a streak-free surface.… Read the rest
If you find the constant scheduling of tasks or general chaos in your household is too much to handle, then perhaps investing in a family command center is good idea. There are many versions of a family command center and each one is specifically designed to fit different household and family needs. The best thing about creating a family command center is that it is a great DIY project, so it won’t end up costing a fortune to get your family’s duties back on track.
How to Create a Family Command Center
Materials & Location
The general materials you will need to create a simple family command center are:
- Bulletin/dry erase/chalk board
- Hammer/electric drill
- Measuring tape
- Writing utensils (markers or chalk)
Depending on the complexity of your creativity skills or budget, you can also add decorative measures, such as ribbons, bows or picture frames of each family member, but feel free to be as basic as possible.… Read the rest
I’ve listened to some outrageous claims from window replacement companies. The usual sales tactic is how much return on your investment by replacing your windows you’ll get. The fact of the matter is the new windows could take anywhere from 13 to 20 years to receive your investment back. Unfortunately, a lot of consumers believe the window company’s claims. I hear this myth repeated many times while doing home inspections throughout the Dallas and Fort Worth areas.
Don’t get me wrong, new windows can be a very good thing, but it miffs me just a bit that a vast amount of dealers in the market try to hype the return to make it sound as if your investment will be recouped in no time at all.… Read the rest
The number one question I get during home inspections is “How is the Foundation”. I decided to write this post to help people understand the North Texas area conditions regarding foundations. Movement in the foundation can be caused by many factors, the most common reason is differential soil movement. In the North Texas area many homes are sitting on top of expansive clay soils. Another term for this type of soil is “Sponge Soil”, increasing in volume in moisture gain and decreasing in moisture loss. When this volume increases or decreases in a uniformed matter all around the home, problems may not develop.… Read the rest
With Winter around the corner, now is probably a good time to get that fireplace in shape for this season of sitting by the fire with a good book, spouse or significant other.
Even with our mild winters here in the Dallas Fort Worth area, the Chimney Safety Institute recommends that homeowners who light fires in their fireplaces three or more times a week during the heating season should have their chimneys inspected and cleaned once a year.
If unseasoned wood is burned in the fireplace, twice-a-year cleaning and inspection may be necessary, because unseasoned wood usually burns at a lower temperature than seasoned wood, causing more smoke and therefore more creosote.… Read the rest