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Attics, Moisture, and Mold: Part 1

 

attic mold

As a Pennsylvania roofing company, we often warn our customers about the dangers of having a warm, moist attic in their home. In this blog series, we’ll discuss the relationship between moisture and mold including how it grows, the parts of your home and lifestyle that contribute to its growth, and what you can do to prevent it.

What We Know About Moisture

Moisture is considered water vapor that can be found in the air or on a surface and more frequently occurs in warmer temperatures. Because it’s found in warmer temperatures, warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler air. The warmest area of a home (and therefore the area with the biggest possibility for moisture) is usually the attic, which can provide the perfect environment for mold.

Mold Living Conditions

Mold needs certain environmental factors to live. These include:

  • A temperature between 41 degrees and 140 degrees
  • Food, which includes the wood in your attic
  • Oxygen
  • Liquid water (which is often found in wood and wood products)

What You Can Do

While you may be tempted to keep your attic at a temperature above 140 degrees in order to kill any mold growth, our Pennsylvania roofing company doesn’t recommend this. An attic temperature that high can “bake” your shingles and shorten their lifespan. It can also put stress on your air conditioner and increase your energy bills.

Instead, make sure your attic has a proper ventilation system. Your home should have an equal number of intakes and exhausts so that attic temperatures and moisture can balance out. Intakes should be low on your roof or in your soffit while exhausts should be high on the roof. This ventilation will make sure that warm, dirty air is expelled from your home while cool, clean air is filtered in.

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Don’t Wait Until Spring for Home Improvement

window replacement

Do you need new windows? New doors? A new roof? Many homeowners believe that since it’s cold, they can’t replace home elements like these during the winter months. Whether they believe it’s because home improvement companies don’t offer winter services or because they’ll be stuck in the cold without a home, we’re here to tell you they’re wrong.

At P.J. Fitzpatrick, you don’t have to wait until spring to tackle home improvement of any kind. We offer our expert repairs and replacement services year-round, and we work quickly, so you won’t have to worry about how long it’ll take us.

We’re also open during inclement weather. While many home improvement companies close during winter snow storms, we stay open in case any of our customers need our help. We know that some of the worst-case scenarios occur during snow storms, and we don’t want you to panic because of a damaged roof, broken windows, leaky chimney flashing, or another misfortune. In fact, because we’re one of the few open year-round and during bad weather, we actually have some of the best prices in the area.

Don’t suffer through inadequate windows, doors, inferior insulation, and more – especially when it’s cold outside. Give your home the treatment it needs and get your family back to being happy and warm. Call our home improvement experts today. We’ll assess your situation and work quickly to fix it. We specialize in Maryland doors, windows, roofing, siding, baths, and more.

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This Year, Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

insulation benefits

We’re nearly two weeks into the new year and we’ve heard all kinds New Year’s resolutions, from “lose weight” to “stop shopping” to “don’t work so hard.” This got us thinking – a great resolution that we should all make is a reduction to our carbon footprint. A smaller carbon footprint means fewer emissions, money savings, and a better way of living. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we’ve already taken steps to be greener: We have solar panels at our New Castle, Delaware office and we recycle all of our aluminum and regularly take reusable materials to Habitat for Humanity.

Our staff members have come up with some great ways for you to be greener:

Carpool to Work

If you know a coworker who lives near you, suggest that you take turns carpooling to work. You’ll not only reduce the amount of gas you use, you’ll also save some money and have someone to talk to to wake you up in the morning!

Choose ENERGY STAR

If you’re in the market for a washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, or other appliance, do some research before you buy and choose an appliance that’s ENERGY STAR approved. It’ll use less energy, which is good for both the environment and your wallet.

Use Proper Home Insulation

If your home isn’t insulated well or insulated correctly, you’re losing more heat or air conditioning than you think. Talk to our Maryland insulation experts – we can tell you if you need new insulation installed.

Reuse and Recycle

Make it a point to reuse some of the things in your home, such as jars or containers- simply wash them out and reuse them for storage. (Just remember to make sure that they’re safe for re-use and not considered one-time use.) Or keep your used coffee grinds to make a garden compost. Also be sure to recycle, from plastic to paper to rubber and more.

Buy Local

Much of the food in your grocery store has traveled around 1,500 miles to get there. This means that a lot of fuel was used to transport it. In fact, around 13% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the production and transportation of food, so do the environment and your local farmers a favor, and buy your food locally.

Use Less Water

There are many different ways you can use less water in your home. Invest in low-flow shower heads and low-flow toilets, which can use up to 50% less water. Don’t run your dishwasher or washing machine until you have a full load. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth and take shorter showers. Get creative with this one!

Go Paperless

If you still get paper bills in the mail for your credit cards, electric bill, bank statements, etc., choose to go paperless. You’ll get the same bill, just emailed to your inbox – plus, you’ll save trees and reduce waste.

Switch Your Lightbulbs

If your home is filled with traditional incandescent light bulbs, make the switch to CFL bulbs or LED bulbs. You’ll not only save energy (CFL and LED bulbs use 75%-85% fewer watts than incandescent), you’ll also save on your electric bill. Plus, you won’t have to replace them as often – CFL bulbs last up to 7x longer than incandescent, while LEDs last up to 42x longer.

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Project Spotlight: Our Latest Bath Solution

Our bath solution specialists recently completed another walk-in solution in Delran Township, New Jersey. The Meles have been married 63 years and while Mr. Mele, an Army radar specialist for 40 years, wanted a shower, Mrs. Mele wanted a tub. We worked out a solution for the couple and built them a brand new walk-in bath solution with a built-in knee wall and a custom cap out of PVC.

bath project 4New Jersey bath solutions

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How-To: Vinyl Siding Maintenance

Delaware siding maintenance

If you installed new vinyl siding on your home a few years ago and have noticed that it’s looking a little worn lately, you may be wondering how to go about maintenancing it. Well, don’t worry – our Delaware siding experts are here to help.

Cleaning

Generally, vinyl siding is designed to be low-maintenance and shouldn’t require much attention, but if you want to freshen up its look, we recommend giving it a good cleaning. Mix an ordinary gentle soap with warm water, then clean your siding with a soft cloth or long-handled soft bristle brush. Start from the bottom and work your way up, making sure to wash off all of the soap before it has a chance to dry.

If you want to pressure wash your siding, check with the siding manufacturer first; some manufacturers believe pressure washing is too aggressive for their siding. If you’re able to use a pressure washer, be sure to keep it straight so that you don’t spray water up underneath your siding.

Mold/Mildew Removal

Have you spotted some mold or mildew on your Delaware siding? Don’t worry – it’s easy to clean off. We recommend using a household cleaner like Windex or Clorox to gently remove the mold or mildew. You can also use a solution of white vinegar and water (30% vinegar, 70% water). For an even more powerful homemade solution, mix 1/3 cup laundry detergent with 2/3 cup trisodium phosphate and 1 gallon of water.

Protection

In order to protect your vinyl siding from stains and discoloration, make sure you keep your distance when spraying pesticides, cooking on the grill, spray painting, staining, or doing anything else that produces an airborne effect. Also, be aware that vinyl siding can be damaged by heat, which is another reason you should use your grill at a distance.

Siding Replacement

If a piece of your siding is damaged or has broken off, you’ll probably need a small siding replacement. Give us a call and we’ll come assess the situation. After we decide what’s best for your home’s exterior, we’ll work quickly to restore it back to its original state.

Fading

Vinyl siding that’s over 15 years old may have some noticeable fading after so many years. While you can’t do much to bring the color back, you could consider painting over it. Before you do, however, check with the siding manufacturer; some void their warranties if their siding is painted. If you get the “ok,” choose a latex paint so that the paint can flex with the vinyl’s movement. You’ll want to choose a light color for your paint – a color too dark can absorb heat and cause the siding to buckle.

Before you paint, clean your vinyl thoroughly (see above) and let it dry. Then, choose a time when the weather will be nice for a few days (you don’t want rain ruining your hard work) and paint each piece with a smooth, even coating of paint.

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7 Not-So-Obvious Signs of Roof Damage

 

roofing damage

At our Maryland roofing company, we’ve repaired and replaced hundreds of roofs due to roofing damage and what we often see is homeowners who don’t know their roof needs to be fixed. Sometimes, there are signs of roof damage that aren’t quite obvious, so be on the lookout for these things:

Sagging Ceiling

If your ceiling looks like it’s sagging, it means that you most likely have water damage caused by a leaking roof. If your ceiling seems to be sagging but you can’t find any signs of water, check your attic. You’ll find water there first.

Shingle Buckling

Your roof may look fine at first, but if you look closer, you may notice shingle buckling. This looks like shingles that have been overlapped and isn’t good for the integrity of your roof. If there’s a lot of buckling, you may even need an entirely new Maryland roofing system.

Health Issues

If you or your family have recently experienced a lot of eye irritation, nasal stuffiness, skin irritation, wheezing, or headaches, if could be because of a prolonged exposure to mold. If your roof isn’t cleaned properly, mold can develop underneath its shingles and spread to the inside of your home.

Termites

Have you noticed termites in your home? If so, they could be coming from the area right below your roof shingles and above your insulation. This area is a popular place for termites to nest, and they’ll slowly start eating away at the wood in your roofing structure. If the damage is bad enough, you may need a new roof.

Chimney Leaks

If you’ve found moisture around the base of your chimney or on the ceiling around or inside your fireplace, you could be dealing with damaged flashing. Whether your chimney flashing was damaged because of a storm or because of bad or careless roofing work, it’ll need to be properly replaced by a professional Maryland roofing company.

Clogged Gutters/Downspouts

If your gutters or downspouts aren’t draining as well as they used to, they may be clogged with shingle granules from your roof. These granules help protect against elements like UV rays, hail, and debris. If a significant number of shingles are without granules, you may need to replace your roof.

Age & Layers

A roofing system that has a layer of new shingles installed on top of a layer of old roofing shingles has a shorter lifespan than a roofing system with just a single layer. If yours is a double-layered roof and is more than 20 years old, you may want to start considering a Maryland roofing replacement.

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Project Spotlight: New Jersey Bath Solution

NJ bath project NJ bath project

Recently, our bath solutions team had the opportunity to work with some terrific clients in the Deptford, NJ area on a bath-to-shower project. The husband was a very strong and positive person who has developed MS and is now in a wheel chair and while that slows him down a little, he is still very active and outgoing. The problem was that he couldn’t get into the old tub that existed in their original bathroom, so they called us in to take a look.

As you can see from the photos, we replaced their old tub with a special two-sided low threshold shower pan and installed a piece of glass as a back wall. The glass was designed to provide a wall for the shower and still keep an open look and feel in the room. The clients selected their preferred wall material and pan color, which are made of acrylic and are easy to keep clean. They now enjoy an easy access and easy clean shower system that solves many of the design challenges they had been experiencing in their existing bath.

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Last-Minute Holiday Decorating Ideas

holiday centerpieceThe holidays are right around the corner, and if you’re still working to get all of your Christmas shopping done, you may not have had time to decorate your home for your upcoming guests. Don’t worry – we’re here to help. Here are some ideas that you can put together in a snap:

Easy Centerpieces

Don’t have a centerpiece for your holiday table? Grab some glass containers and some sticks of holly and berries. Place the sticks at the bottom of the containers, then fill with water and top with floating candles. Or, find a handful of pillar candles in different sizes and colors. Arrange them neatly in the middle of your table, then lay a small wreath of evergreen branches around them.

Front Door Pizzazz

When it comes to holiday decorating, your front door is your biggest statement – it’s the first thing that your friends and family will see, so make sure reflects the personality of you and your family. Create a wreath from yarn, evergreen branches, pepperberries, fabric, and more. You can even hang garland around the door outline for a different take on a wreath.

In addition to simply decorating, make sure your front door is the one you want. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we install and repair hundreds of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey doors. Give us a call today!

“Wrapped” Cabinets

Do something a little different and decorate your kitchen cabinets this year. If you’re feeling festive, you can wrap the outsides in wrapping paper and finish with bows to make them look like presents. Or, you can skip the wrapping paper and run a thick piece of ribbon down the center of each. Then, fasten a red velvet bow to the middle of the ribbon for a more simple “present” effect.

Homemade Window Clings

All you need to make your own window clings is some white glue, some dish soap, and some food coloring. Mix together four tablespoons of glue, a few drops of soap, and a few drops of food coloring. Then, paint your own holiday shapes onto a piece of wax paper and wait for them to dry. After that, simply peel them off and stick them on your windows!

Decorative Pillows

Dress up your couches and chairs with some “gift” pillows. Find some plain throw pillows in the colors you desire, then tie a piece of fabric ribbon around each one and end with a bow to make them look like gifts. You can even add mini pom-poms to the center of the bow and the ends to finish them off.

Warm Entrance Stairs

If you have stairs leading to your front door, make your guests feel cozy by placing small metal lanterns on each step and filling them with different colored candles. Then, tie a piece of ribbon to the tops of each for a finishing touch.

Mantel Spirit

For a holiday mantel, a good place to start is with a bunch of evergreen branches. Arrange them neatly across your mantel and after that, you can top them with whatever you want. Try a trio of white pillar candles with red ribbon around them. Or grab a couple large glass containers and fill them with shiny globe ornaments. You can even incorporate lights into your display to make it even cozier.

*Photo courtesy of paigespartyideas.com

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10 Fun Facts About Your Chimney

chimney

One of the best parts about having a chimney is using it for cozy holiday fires, however, it’s important that your chimney be properly installed and covered by roof flashing. If it’s not, water can leak through your roof and cause structural damage.

1. Most modern chimneys have a protective coating called a chimney liner. This inner liner can be made from aluminum, stainless steel, terra cotta, or other fireproof materials and it helps keep too much heat from reaching the rest of your home.

2. Like pigs, chimney sweeps were often associated with good luck. In some towns, on New Year’s day, chimney sweeps would walk through the streets holding a pig and villagers would pay a small amount of money to make a wish while they pulled a hair from the pig.

3. If your chimney is giving off a funny smell, it’s most likely due to the buildup of creosote along the walls. Schedule a professional chimney cleaning and invest in some commercial chimney deodorant.

4. Ever wonder why chimney smoke goes up and out the chimney instead of into your home? It’s because warm air rises and creates an updraft that takes all the smoke with it.

5. The top of your chimney may be covered with a chimney cap. Chimney caps can keep rain and animals out, can increase updraft, and can reduce the amount of smoke that flows into your home.

6. Chimney fires can reach up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Chimneys were first introduced in northern Europe during the 12th century, however, they didn’t become common in homes until the 16th and 17th centuries.

8. You can use less wood (and make fewer trips to the woodpile) by using hard woods like hickory or white oak. Since these woods are denser, they’ll burn longer.

9. The world’s tallest chimney can be found in Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan. Built in 1987, it’s 1,377 feet tall.

10. As hot smoke, unburned wood particles, gases, and hydrocarbon float up a cooler chimney, condensation occurs and forms the residue known as creosote.

If you’re afraid that your home may have a leaking roof, call our New Jersey roofing company as soon as possible. We’ll inspect it and make any necessary repairs.

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Asphalt vs. Metal Roofing

 

roofing materials

These days, a good portion of new roofing installations are made of asphalt shingles, but there are still some roofs that are made with metal. If you’re considering a new roof, you may be wondering which of the two materials would be best for your home. Our Maryland roofing company is here to help.

Asphalt Roofing

Asphalt shingles are by far, the most common type of roofing shingles. They’re not only low-maintenance, but they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to achieve many different looks. Some can even be made to look like other materials like slate or wood shake. Asphalt is also very easy to install and lasts 15-50 years.

Asphalt roofing pros:

  • Low-maintenance
  • Variety of styles
  • Easy to install
  • Lasts 15-50 years
  • Costs less than metal

Asphalt roofing cons:

  • Can be damaged in extreme weather
  • Heavier than metal

Metal Roofing

When you think of a metal roof, you may think of a barn or a warehouse. These days, however, metal roofs can be found on structures of all types. Unlike asphalt shingles, there are only a few different styles in which metal shingles can be made, but metal roofs tend to last between 40 and 50 years.

Metal roofing pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Not easily damaged
  • Lasts 40-50 years

Metal roofing cons:

  • Limited styles
  • Costs 2x – 4x more than asphalt

No matter which roofing material you choose, you need to make sure it’s installed correctly. Call the experts at our Maryland roofing company. We can help.

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