Tips for Home Winterization

Winter weather will be coming to Wisconsin before too long, so now is the time for area homeowners to prepare their homes for what can be a harsh time of year. Homes can be winterized with these tips from Callen professionals.

Tips for Home WinterizationOutside

  • Homeowners should make sure they have the necessary tools for the season in good working order: shovels, ice melting salt, and a roof rake for removing snow from the roof to help reduce ice damming issues.
  • Checking windows and doors for air leaks should start with a visual inspection of the exterior. Where the old caulking has failed, there will be a gap between the window or doorframe and the home’s siding. If your home has single-paned windows, look for damaged glazing, which is the hard putty that holds the individual panes of glass in place.
  • Clean gutters of any debris, which could add to ice damming issues. Consider seamless aluminum gutters and larger aluminum downspouts to reduce the amount of ice build-up and the possibility of leaks and damage.
  • Water is the enemy to your exterior chimney. Water getting into the masonry, freezing, and then causing failure gets costly to fix. Make sure the concrete cap or crown on the chimney has an overhang and is not cracked.
  • Make sure the flue that vents your furnace and water heater has the proper size liner in it, and that it is in good condition.
  • When the ground freezes, animals that normally seek shelter and food underground may instead cause damage to trees and shrubs. Flowering crab trees and burning bushes are especially susceptible. Protect plants with either wire or netting across or around the plant.


  • Check your furnace filter and replace it needed. Now is also a good time to have the furnace inspected and tuned up.
  • Regarding the air conditioner, turn off the breaker for the A/C and clean it thoroughly and properly.
  • It is necessary to make sure the fireplace chimney is clean from soot before using it this season to prevent a chimney fire. Also, be sure you close your fireplace damper when not in use. Otherwise the heat you are paying for while running your furnace is going up the chimney.



When Is It Time For Gutter Replacement?

Day after day, year after year, your gutters and downspouts are always on call to channel damaging storm water away from the home. “Even if your gutters have provided you with decades of faithful, trouble-free service, every installation has an expiration date,” said Christopher Wittmann, CR, exterior product specialist with Callen Construction in Muskego. “If you’re not certain whether or not the time for replacement has come, look out for these telltale signs of failure to give you some insight.”

When Is It Time For Gutter Replacement?Look to see if there are cracks or splits of any kind. While small cracks in your gutters may not seem like a major concern at first, they will eventually turn into larger cracks, and it may happen sooner than you think. If you allow these cracks to remain, water will not only damage your gutters further, but it will also damage the fascia boards behind the gutters, the shingles above the gutter, and the foundation below.

Another warning sign is peeling paint on or around your gutters and or flecks of orange.

“The paint on your gutter is designed to withstand the typical wear and tear throughout the seasons. Unless your gutters are extremely old, peeling paint or orange flecks from the beginning stages of rust indicate that water is present on a continuous basis,” explained Christopher. This could mean that the gutter is not removing the water properly, or that cracks or other damage may be present.

Be on the look out for pools of water or signs of mildew around your home’s foundation. Gutters are designed with the purpose of keeping water flowing away from your home’s foundation. Pools of water or mildew can indicate that the gutters are not working as intended. This could be caused by something as simple as a clog, or as complex as a defect in the gutter system. Water can easily cause foundation damage, leading to costly, time-consuming repairs.

“Check your gutters at least once a year, preferably on a day that’s relatively sunny and free from rain, for water damage or watermarks directly beneath the gutters,” advised Christopher. “Water damage or marks underneath the gutter indicate that leaking or overflowing water is escaping the gutter. This type of water intrusion can damage your soffit and fascia board.”

One of the easiest ways to tell if your gutters require repairs or replacement is if you notice sagging or the gutters are beginning to pull away from the house. “This can indicate that the gutters are full of water and are pulling away from the house due to the weight,” he said “A full gutter means the gutter system may not be appropriate for the home, it’s draining improperly, or debris is causing blockage. Sagging gutters could require significant cost and can be a hassle to repair.

“Remember, gutters are an important part of your home. They direct water away from your home’s exterior walls, windows, doors, and foundation, preventing water from making its way inside. Be proactive when you look for these revealing cues, so you can address any concerns before they become major problems,” Christopher said.



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.