Oct

21

10 Ways to Extend Your Roof’s Life

by Mike Wood

At Callen, we know that a roof is one of the most important home-related investments you’ll make.  We do dozens of roofing projects each year, and we see the dramatic impact and improvement that comes from upgrading a home’s roof.

However, we have also seen that roofs are one of the most neglected parts of the home’s exterior after they have been replaced.  Just as you keep your lawn watered and trimmed, your roof requires maintenance to help prolong its life and ultimately save you money.

Caring for your roof doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming if done regularly and correctly.  Callen suggests following these steps to help your roof reach its anticipated life span.

1. Remove Debris
Removing debris to prevent water buildup since pine needles and tree limbs can prevent the roof from properly shedding water, plus debris adds weight to the roof that can eventually cause sagging or even failure.  Bird droppings and certain types of leaves and/or pine needles can eat away at the roof, causing premature aging.
Use a push broom to sweep debris from the roof, but avoid using a broom with hard bristles because it may remove an excessive amount of asphalt granules from the shingles.  You can also spray off the roof with a garden hose.  Avoid using a power washer because a high-pressure stream of water can damage most any type of roof, even putting dents in metal roofing.

2. Trim Back Tree Limbs
Trim tree branches that appear to be on the verge of falling on the roof.  If you notice water collecting in a particular area, or if water damage is already visible, it may be because tree limbs are blocking the sun from properly drying the roof.  Consider pruning trees to help control water drainage issues.

3. Remove Algae and Fungus
Algae, moss, and fungi can grow on virtually any type of roof, even roofs designed to prevent it.  Remove the growth by mixing equal parts bleach and water in a sprayer and applying it to the affected areas.

Once the roof is cleared, installing a zinc strip near the roof ridge can prevent future problems.  As rainwater runs over these strips, the zinc particles are absorbed in the water, which then coats the roof with a protective layer.

These strips are easy to install by sliding them about an inch under a line of shingles near the ridge and nailing them down with galvanized nails.  Apply a little sealant to each nail head to protect against leaks.

4. Snow and Ice Removal
With a roof rake, clear heavy snow and ice from the roof, as snow and ice can put stress on a roof structure, so do your best to keep the roof free and clear of ice dams, icicles, and heavy snow.

5. Clean the Gutters
Clear leaves, sticks, and shingle granules from gutters to prevent clogs.  Gutters can only handle so much weight before failing.  Trapped water in your gutters are also a popular breeding ground for pesky mosquitos.

6. Apply Roof Cement to Lifted Shingles
If you notice raised shingles, you may be able to solve the problem with roofing cement.  Just apply a little to the underside of the lifted shingle, and it should help it lay flat.  Not addressing this problem can lead to future water damage and blown off shingles with the next heavy storm.

7. Remove Standing Water
Brush or squeegee puddled water from the rooftop.  This is particularly important if you have a flat roof and/or the roof gets little direct sunlight during the day.
Once ponding water is cleared from the roof, try to determine its cause (i.e., roof pitch is incorrect, tree limbs shade the roof all day, roof is sagging, etc.).  If necessary, have a roofing contractor visit, as fixing the problem early can save money down the road.

8. Inspect Flat Roofs for Cracks, Blistering, and Seam Failure
Flat roofing products should be checked at least once a year for cracking and blistering, paying special attention to the seams where water tends to sneak under the roofing material.  For small holes or cracks, use a roofing sealant for the repair.

9. Roof Flashings
The majority of roof leaks occur because of damaged or improperly installed flashing.  Inspect the flashing around vents and chimneys to ensure a watertight seal.  If minor damage is noticed, apply polyurethane sealant to help keep the water out.

10. Inspect Seals around Skylights
The seals around skylights can wear out over time, so inspect the seals for damage.  If necessary, have a contractor re-apply sealant made specifically for skylights.

Oct

01

Kitchen Design – Remember the Food

callen-kitchenby Paulette Sodemann

The many functions of the modern kitchen mean that most kitchens today are designed in zones, with each zone targeted to a specific purpose and need.  While you are busy planning the zones your new kitchen will include, don’t forget that the main purpose of your kitchen is still food!

Whether you are a passionate amateur chef or just cook the occasional meal on the run, your newly designed kitchen must be fully equipped to meet your food storage, preparation, and cooking needs before you address any other requirements.  Your kitchen’s “food zones” should be designed with a workable layout allowing you to move smoothly between food storage, preparation, cooking, and clean up, plus allow easy access to all the tools you need.

How you personalize these food zones will be dictated by several characteristics, including the members of your household and the types of meals your family eats.  For example, if you have children, you may consider including a separate zone with convenient access to healthy snacks and beverages away from the main cooking area.  If you entertain guests frequently, then a separate beverage center may be favorable to allow guests to get drinks without passing through the cooking zone.

Your main food storage areas should be easily accessible to the cooking area, though you may choose to have a separate pantry for additional food storage.  The food preparation area should allow plenty of workspace, and could even include butcher blocks built into the island or main countertop.  Access to tools such as knives will simplify your food preparation, and a pullout garbage bin makes it easier to clear away food waste.

When you are ready to get cooking, it helps to have your pots and pans close at hand and well organized.  Other utensils, spices, and oils that are used regularly in cooking should be within arm’s reach of your cooktop.  Ideally, purpose-built storage guarantees these items are well organized and reduces clutter on your countertop.

Your kitchen island is a great place to include an extra cooktop, stove, steam oven, microwave, and more importantly, to ensure you never run out of cooking space, even when preparing a special holiday meal.  A second dishwasher, like a dishwasher drawer, in the kitchen island can also make the messy dishes and cooking utensils disappear more quickly.  If you bake, don’t forget to include storage for your baking supplies, measuring cups and bowls, and even your stand mixer.  For the avid baker, a specialized worktop space for mixing and rolling out pastry would make your kitchen complete!

Finish off your design with well-placed task lighting and plenty of electrical outlets in suitable locations for small appliances.  Even better, if the outlets are angled power strips, hidden underneath your kitchen cabinets, they will not interfere with your backsplash design.

Get the basics of your kitchen zones right first, and then you can have fun planning and adding on all of those extra features you want to include, like a built-in television, custom-designed drop zone and charging station, and pet feeding station!

Sep

09

Home Checklist for Fall and Winter

  • Get your mind in the gutters – inspect and clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Button up your overcoat – seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk.
  • Get on top of roof problems – inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents.
  • Walks the walks (and drives) – take steps to repair damaged sidewalks, driveways, and steps.
  • Chill out – drain and winterize outdoor faucets and irrigation systems.
  • Freshen your filter – clean or replace dirty furnace filters.
  • Give your furnace a physical – have a professional inspect your heating system.
  • Gather round the hearth – check fireplaces for soot or creosote build-up. Better yet, schedule a visit from a reputable chimney sweep.
  • Keep the humidifier humming – clean the plates or pads to ensure efficient operation.
  • Head-off gas problems – if you have a gas-fired room heater, have it inspected by a pro.  Also, perform any routine maintenance recommended by the maker.
  • Keep the wood fires burning brightly – wood stoves are making a comeback.  To avoid a deadly situation, be sure to inspect yours before firing it up.
  • Reverse that fan
 – reverse your ceiling fan to push warm air downward and force it to recirculate, keeping you more comfortable.
  • Wrap those pipes – a burst pipe caused by a winter freeze is a nightmare.  Shut off your hose inside your house (via a turnoff valve) and drain the lines.  Wrap pipes that aren’t insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces, such as crawlspaces, basements or garages.
  • Keep your family safe at home – a home safety check should be an annual ritual in every household. Test smoke and CO monitors, inspect (or install) fire extinguishers, review fire escape plans, and rid your home of old newspapers and other fire hazards.

Sep

02

Designing An Easy-To-Clean Bathroom

By Doreen Schofield

I do not enjoy cleaning my bathrooms, and I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way.  The worst part about it, though, is how much grime and clutter can affect a bathroom’s appearance.  A beautiful, enjoyable space can become not so nice to look at or use when it’s dirty.

Unfortunately, the bathroom that never gets dirty has yet to be invented.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for you to help make bathroom cleanup easier, however.  Here are a few tips for designing a neater, easier-to-clean bathroom.

Fewer Grout Lines

Tile is a popular choice for many aspects of bathroom design, and for good reason.  It can look very nice.  The downside of tile is the grout lines that come along with it.  Grout is a magnet for dirt, grime, mildew, and general filth in the bathroom, especially in a shower or tub surround.  Not only do grout lines attract a lot of dirt, but they can be especially difficult to clean properly.  Design your bathroom with fewer grout lines, and you will have a space that’s much easier to keep clean.

There are a couple of simple ways to cut down on the amount of grout lines.  The first is to select larger size tiles.  The larger the tiles, the fewer the grout lines required.  Solid surfaces, instead of tile, are another method.  Surfaces such as stone, glass, or marble are nonporous, resistant to bacteria and mold, and many are also stain resistant.  These surfaces can be great for a vanity countertop or backsplash.

I know that many homeowners are partial to the look of a mosaic pattern tile, but the number of grout lines in mosaic tile can be difficult to keep clean.  Consider how much smaller mosaic tiles you truly want in your bathroom’s design.  Each of the Callen designers has extensive experience designing with tile and can help you create a shower that’s both nice to look at and easy to clean.

Keep Showers Simple

Like grout lines, showers just seem to attract dirt and grime.  Soap scum is another nuisance.  Glass shower doors and their metal frames can be especially difficult to keep clean and looking nice, so think about an open shower design if the room’s footprint will allow it.  If you want or need to have a glass enclosure, opt for a frameless shower to cut down on the amount of hard-to-clean components.

Also consider the shape of your shower and any built-in shelves or cutouts in the shower wall.  The more corners and surfaces within your shower, the more difficult it will be to clean.  Finally, a handheld showerhead is a simple solution, since you can quickly and easily rinse shower surfaces.

Clutter-Free Surfaces

Since bathrooms are so heavily used, they tend to collect a lot of dust, hair, and dirt.  The most important solution to combat this reality is to keep a clear floor and have plenty of simple storage solutions.  Bathroom fixtures can be especially difficult to clean around, creating hard to reach spaces for filth to pile up.  Generally, the fewer fixtures on the floor, the better off you’ll be from a cleaning standpoint.  Consider a wall-mounted vanity and wall-mounted toilet.  These will make sweeping or vacuuming the floor a straightforward task.

Another friend of dirt and grime in a bathroom is clutter.  Toiletry items living on the vanity countertop can leave water rings and attract other messes.  The same thing holds true for any items on the floor.  Make sure your bathroom design uses enough built-in storage to hold everything you need.  Think outside the box and consider a vanity with outlets within a drawer, so that your blow dryer and other items can stay out of sight and out of the way for cleanup.

At Callen, we pride ourselves on designing and building high-quality spaces that meet the needs and desires of the homeowner.  When it comes to bathrooms, we can help you create an easy-to-clean room that looks as nice as you ever dreamed.