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.
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
The main purpose of a roof is to protect the home from the elements. Rainfall is the #1 culprit of water getting underneath the roof structure. Water needs to be shed away from valleys, chimneys, ridges, eaves, rakes, skylights, roof penetrations and roof to wall intersections. Water built up in these particular locations can cause serious damage to the structure in wood rot and not to mention mold which is known to cause respiratory problems. The water usually doesn’t just stop there, it can penetrate down the attic structure, to the ceiling sheet-rock or down a wall and cause even more serious issues.… Read the rest
Just another example of why you should get a home inspection prior to spending your hard earned money on your dream home. As you can see by the picture, a shoddy repair job would have given a few clues something wasn’t right. As a buyer of a house, what would you have done next?
Part of my passion as a Dallas and Fort Worth area home inspector is to get to the bottom of little things that others wouldn’t think to observe. My first move was to look at different areas located around this particular area, ie, laundry room, bathroom, etc.… Read the rest
Came across this a/c systems evaporator coil today. It’s amazing how lazy some people are. If you pay a professional to do a job, you expect to get a professional job done. The coil was so off level, condensation was standing on the left side of the pan whenever the a/c was running. Here in Texas, that’s most of the year. After years of this happening, the pan finally rusted through and is now leaking into the secondary pan and beyond to the plenum. The plenum is leaking onto the ceiling and wall of the bedroom below. Now we have a huge mess with water damage and mold.… 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
With advancements in renewable energy technology, many people are starting to be turned on to its potential. If you’re thinking about going to renewable energy, here are five reasons that you may want to go ahead and make the move to this type of energy.
1. Saving Money
One of the reasons that you may want to make the switch to the renewable energy is to save money. In today’s market, regular forms of energy are getting much more expensive by the day. The way things are going, you may end up paying quite a bit more for electricity from the electric company than you would from a renewable source of energy like solar panels.… 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
If you have fuel burning appliances in your home, you owe it to your family to have CO detectors installed. Carbon monoxide detectors are great devices to use when fuel-burning appliances are used in the home. They can be very useful for keeping watch on the CO levels in the home.
Carbon monoxide (CO) can be a sneaky killer, it’s colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that forms from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood or coal.
• 170 people on average in the United States die every year from CO produced by non-automotive consumer products.… 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