Preparing for Winter: Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

As summer days get shorter and a hint of fall can be felt in the air, it’s time to start thinking about prepping your home for winter. Before you begin any home exterior remodeling in Brookfield, WI, here are just a few of the essential tasks that should be taken care of before cold weather hits. Simple precautions can go a long way to prevent expensive repairs down the road.

Maintain Your Mower

Before your mower is ready to stow for the winter, there are several things that should be done to guarantee a smooth start when spring rolls around. First, if you haven’t run your mower dry, you will need to stabilize any fuel left in the tank to prevent it from breaking down and damaging the engine. This can be done by adding stabilizer to the tank of your mower and running it for five minutes to ensure that it gets to the carburetor. Add stabilizer to the gas in your gas can too. It’s also a good idea to oil the engine and clean grass clumps and build-up from the deck of the mower.

Callen Preparing for Winter: Your Fall Home Maintenance ChecklistClean Out Gutters

The damage that can ensue from a clogged gutter is harmful to your home as well as your wallet. To prevent this, get out your ladder and clean gutters of all leaves, sticks and other debris. While cleaning, check to see if the gutters are loose or damaged, and tighten or call for replacement as needed. Make sure the areas where the water runs off are clear of debris as well, and protect your home’s foundation by ensuring that downspouts reach beyond the house by at least five feet. To make sure you do not need to worry about this chore in the future, call Callen to have Gutter Topper installed.

Examine the Roof

While you have the ladder out, take a survey of your roof. If you cannot safely climb to the roof line, use binoculars from the ground. Pay close attention to the shingles, noting any that are missing, cracked, or curling. If your roof is older than 20 years and you notice unusual amounts of granule accumulation while you are cleaning gutters, this could mean that your shingles are losing their protective coating. If you have any concerns, be sure to call a roofing professional such as Callen before harsh winter weather sets in.

As the leader in home remodeling and replacement windows in Brookfield, WI, Callen is always ready and willing to answer any questions you might have. Just give us a call today at 414-765-2585 for prompt, professional service.




Spring Cleaning Checklist For Home Exteriors

By Christopher Wittmann, CR

When the topic of “spring cleaning” is discussed, thoughts naturally turn to the inside of your home, such as organizing and discarding no longer used items. The experts at Callen encourage you to also clean the exterior of your home this spring.

“A Wisconsin winter can cause issues for your home’s exterior, so your outdoor chores will likely be comprised of a heavy dose of maintenance as well as the more traditional indoor cleaning and clearing type tasks,” said Christopher Wittmann, CR, exterior product specialist for Callen.

To assist in getting your exterior ready for the outdoor season, Christopher suggests completing the following tasks this spring.

pressure-wash-cleaningClean the Gutters

Gutters do their job best when kept clean. “During winter, snow and any leftover leaves or debris may freeze in the gutter,” Christopher said. “Clean out any debris, including in the eaves and roof valleys, to ensure that water can flow freely. Then check for proper drainage away from the home by ensuring that all downspouts are fully secured.” Christopher suggests that, since the weight of the ice and snow in the gutters can compromise the integrity of their fastening to the house, also inspect the connection of the brackets to ensure the gutters aren’t pulling away from the fascia.

Christopher suggests installing a gutter protection system, such as GutterTopper, which Callen has installed on homes throughout southeastern Wisconsin for more than 15 years. “With GutterTopper, water flows smoothly into the gutters even during the heaviest downpour while leaves and other debris stay out,” Christopher said. “Plus, Gutter Topper is equally effective in the winter time since it reduces the amount of ice and snow build-up inside the gutters.” Gutter Topper is available in a full array of colors, so you can coordinate with your roof and gutters.

Inspect Hose Bibs (Outdoor Faucets)

Hose bibs left undrained or unprotected during winter have been known to freeze and crack, creating a leak inside the wall. If this occurs, it is necessary to repair the pipe and install an inside shutoff valve for drainage. “Before winter temperatures set in, it is best to turn off the inside valve (if equipped) and open the outside spigot to allow water to drain out and not freeze during the colder months,” Christopher said. “When you secure your garden hose to the hose bib and turn on the water, pay special attention to the connecting points and inspect for any water leaks in the event that those connections were compromised.”

Window Screens

When spring arrives, people want fresh air in their homes, so naturally they open the windows. Before that is done, clean the screens, as properly maintained screens create maximum airflow into the home. To clean, first try spraying the screens in a tub to eliminate the dust and debris that clings to the mesh. If the debris doesn’t come off, lay the screens on a flat surface and use mild soap and water with a soft brush to gently remove dirt and grime. Clean both sides of the screen and the interior and exterior of the frame. Allow the screen to dry fully before reinstalling.

Deck Maintenance

Most decks require regular upkeep, so it is important to evaluate its condition and make needed repairs. “Examine the structure carefully to ensure it is safe, fixing cracked railings, splintered planks, and loose nails,” Christopher said. “Use a spray nozzle attached to a garden hose to clean the deck to remove dirt and mildew. If the dirt and grime doesn’t come off, the use of a pressure washer or a brush and mild cleaning detergent may be needed.” Reseal the deck if necessary. If the deck area includes lighting, remove debris, clean the fixtures, survey that the bulbs are securely screwed in, and check that all fixtures are working appropriately.

Clean the Garage

For some homeowners, the garage is purgatory for their belongings, where surplus materials take up residence. Cleaning out the garage will provide additional space for warm weather equipment like bikes, outdoor games, and gardening equipment. “Discarding no longer used items and organizing the materials that you decide to keep will allow you to more easily locate what you need, when you need it,” Christopher said. “Eliminating clutter in the garage and storing flammables such as oil, gasoline, paint, propane and varnish in a shed or at least in a metal cabinet in the garage will prevent garage fires.”

Fence Inspection

Rot is the biggest thing to look for in a wooden fence, along with loose rails and any kind of wobbly parts. “Inspect the posts where they meet the ground. If it appears that the wood is weak, it can cause the whole fence to come down”, Christopher said.

Wash the House

Spring is usually a good time to wash off the dirt and grime that accumulated on the exterior of the house. “To reduce streaking, be sure to start at the bottom and work your way up, being especially cautious around the electrical service entrance, the lines and conduit feeding the power meter,” Christopher said. “Avoid spraying upward and angle the spray away from doors, windows, and vents, especially soffit vents.” He also suggests using a spray nozzle attached to a garden hose first before using a power washer since “the high water output from a pressure washer can compromise the integrity of the siding by tearing off the wood or strips of the finish from hardboard siding and also allowing water to penetrate into the sheathing underneath causing mold and mildew. If dirt and grime aren’t coming off very easily, use a mild detergent and soft brush first to remove or loosen it up before spraying it again.”

“Regardless of the size and condition of your home, exterior spring cleaning can make it fresh for the new year,” Christopher said.

Callen’s exterior product specialists have plenty of ideas enhancing your home’s exterior. Call Callen, the leading remodeling company in Brookfield, for inspiration on how to get started.



Spring Maintenance Feature: The Gutter Topper®

Gutter TopperWith spring right around the corner, now is an ideal time to consider those maintenance tasks that come with the new season. One important item on that list is taking stock of your gutters to determine if they need to be cleaned, repaired or even replaced.

The Effects of Poor Gutter Maintenance

The most important function of your gutters is to channel water that runs off your roof and carry it away from the foundation of your house. When leaves and other debris build up in your gutters, this can cause water to back up. With nowhere else to go, water could end up in your home. In areas of cold winter weather, gutter build-up can also contribute to the formation of ice dams which can be very damaging to your roof.

Why Gutter Topper®?

Callen Construction offers an innovative gutter product for exterior remodeling in Muskego, WI. Gutter Topper® gutter guard features a patented design that allows water to flow effortlessly into your gutters, even in a heavy downpour, while keeping leaves, twigs and more out. This is accomplished through surface tension, a principle that causes water to adhere to the surface along which it moves. Gutter Topper has a rounded “nose” that rainwater clings to and follows right into the openings at the bottom of the system. Meanwhile, leaves and debris sit harmlessly on Gutter Topper’s flat surface until they dry out and are scattered by the wind.

More Exciting Features

Gutter Topper is also of great benefit during the winter. There is no fear of water freezing and collapsing your gutters with its unique Ice Release System. This system keeps ice and snow out of gutters, and can even tolerate a snow load of up to 1,200 pounds per square foot! With a variety of colors available to help you coordinate with your roof and gutters, as well as a transferable Lifetime Guarantee, it’s easy to see why installing Gutter Topper is a great investment.

Whether your gutters need to be repaired or replaced, or you need Gutter Topper installed, the Brookfield, WI, home exterior remodeling experts at Callen Construction can help you determine what’s right for you and your home. Give us a call today at (414) 765-2585 to arrange a free consultation!




5 Steps To Spruce Up Your Lawn for Spring

Callen Blog - Spring Lawn Tips 050415Long, brutally cold winters make green grass and warmer weather especially sweet for Wisconsinites. As temperatures head upward, it’s time to think about getting your lawn in shape for the upcoming summer. Follow these easy tips for a spring lawn spruce-up.

  • Clean and inspect. Rake up dead leaves and debris that laid buried under the snow over the winter. A good clean up will not only help your grass grow, it will also prevent damage to your mower. Inspect trees for broken or damaged branches. Prune them or call a professional for assistance. Use an edger around planting beds and along sidewalks.
  • Aerate. Aeration – done by pulling small plugs of thatch and soil out of the ground – helps grass roots grow deeper and produces a stronger, more vigorous lawn. This is best done in the spring. Aerating machines can be rented from home improvement stores and lawn and garden stores.
  • Fertilize. Fertilizer gives your lawn, trees, and shrubs an extra boost of nutrients after cleaning and aerating. Slow- or controlled-release fertilizers are best to supply nutrients gradually. It’s also important to know that not all grasses should be fertilized in the spring; some cool-weather grasses are best fertilized later in the year. To find out when to fertilize your variety of grass, contact your local University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.
  • Mulch. A layer of fresh mulch in planting beds and around trees looks neat, helps soil to retain moisture, prevents compaction, and enhances the soil. Don’t let mulch touch the trunks of trees and shrubs, and never layer mulch more than three inches in depth.
  • Check your gutter system. Proper drainage is essential to protect your landscaping and your home from water damage. Be sure your gutters and downspouts are in good repair and clear of clogs. If your yard has many trees, consider installing the Gutter Topper® gutter cover for long-term protection.

For assistance with gutters, gutter protection, or other exterior improvement projects, call Callen today at (414) 765-2585 for a FREE inspection and estimate. We’re the exterior remodeling company Milwaukee homeowners have trusted since 1986!