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.
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
Everyone seems to be struggling for money these days. Maybe it has something to do with being in the middle of the worst financial disaster of our time. If you’re entrepreneurially minded you could change all that if you have a garden. It doesn’t matter how small the garden, though bigger would be better. There are lots of ways you could turn your garden into a money making machine.
Now you won’t need to worry about next months credit card bill. You won’t be spending next summer at home if you can afford to get away somewhere beautiful. All because you dared to be different.… Read the rest
10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home
Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at Leahy’s Inspections, we want to change that. Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want their homes to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy-efficiency, Home inspector energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.
Why make your home more energy efficient?… 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
MOST HOMEOWNERS DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT THE INSULATION IS NEEDED TO GIVE YOU COMFORT AND REDUCE THOSE ENERGY BILLS IN YOUR HOME. BELOW IS SOME SIMPLE INFO ON INSULATION.
HOW INSULATION WORKS
You need insulation in your home to provide resistance to heat flow. The more heat flow resistance your insulation provides, the lower your heating and cooling costs.
Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. In the winter, this heat flow moves directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated garages, basements, and even to the outdoors. Heat flow can also move indirectly through interior floors, walls and ceilings wherever there is a difference in temperature.… Read the rest
I recently performed my routine maintenance on the jacuzzi tub we have in the master bath. I thought I would share some of the tips I’ve picked up during my home inspection career. I’m always seeking to better my knowledge on questions that may come up during one of my home inspections.
All whirlpool bathtubs have a small amount of residual water left in the pipeline. Minerals in water begin a process of calcifying around the insides of your pipes. This hard scale build up not only restricts water flow, but becomes a perfect breading ground for infectious bacteria. As the algae breaks off, you will see it in your bath water as ugly black flecks.… 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
It’s time for the Fall season, which means the annual chores need to be done. Many of us put these chores off as long as possible. From raking, to cleaning the house, to splitting firewood, to getting ready for the holidays, these tasks need to get done. Many of these fall chores are physically exhausting. But, depending on your health, they can also be a great form of exercise and calorie burners.
Here are some healthy reasons why fall chores can help you get some exercise.
Raking Leaves – on average burns 280 calories per hour.
Whether you have to rake leaves or grass clippings from your lawn, this chore is exactly that – a chore.… 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