The siding on your home is generally the only thing standing between the interior of your home and the elements. Each panel works together to create a complete system designed to keep out moisture and pests and to protect your home and your family. It’s often difficult for homeowners to tell how much damage is hiding between the siding and the drywall until the siding is removed. Unfortunately, once the siding is removed, it’s possible to see exactly how much wood rot there is in the framing of the home caused by years of moisture that continually seeped behind the siding. Vinyl siding is easy to maintain and extremely durable; however, sometimes even vinyl siding needs to be repaired or replaced. Fortunately, in most situations, the problems are easily fixed. Here are some tips on caring for your siding and knowing when vinyl siding repair or replacement is in order.
Common Vinyl Siding Problems and Siding Repair
The majority of vinyl siding manufacturers provide a warranty for specific problems with their products for a period of time; however, they rarely cover structural or installation problems. Some of the most common problems with vinyl siding and the types of recommended vinyl siding repair include:
Bulging — Siding conforms to the surface that it is being adhered to, but vinyl siding isn’t quite as good as other types of siding, such as wood, at hiding defects in the surface to which it is adhered. If the vinyl is bulging and does not give when you push on the siding, there is generally a problem in the structure. For instance, the wood framing may have warped, changing its shape, pushing the siding outward. Bowed or broken wood studs and loose sheathing are the most common causes of unsightly bulges. In this situation, siding repair consists of removing the siding and making repairs to the structure.
Buckling — Vinyl siding naturally expands and contracts as the temperatures outside change. However, if the siding panels were nailed extra tightly during the installation, the movement is restricted. Or, improper spacing can cause the siding to buckle. Siding repair in this situation can often be easily done by loosening the fasteners in the siding panels that are buckling. In some situations, the panel may need to be removed and the length trimmed.
Melting — Even the most extreme heat should not cause the vinyl siding to melt on your home. If you have siding panels that appear to be melted, check for an outside source of high heat, such as a barbecue grill that is close to the house or possibly the heat from a fire pit. Both of these can cause the siding to melt if the flames get too close. The only solution for siding repair when it is melted is to replace the damaged panels.
Nail pops — Popped-out nails can become exposed to the elements, causing rust or even missing nails. If there are nails on the siding that have popped out, the first step is to have the siding inspected to ensure there hasn’t been any sort of movement and that it is expanding and contracting correctly. Rusty nails may be a sign of moisture damage, so they should be removed and replaced with stainless steel nails. If nails are missing, first check behind the panels to make sure there isn’t any water damage from exposure. If the structure is in good condition, replace all the missing nails.
Most minor repairs, such as missing nails, can be repaired by the homeowner. However, if you suspect any damage behind the siding, it is important to have the structure and the current siding inspected by a professional siding contractor to determine the extent of the damages and the best way to make repairs.
Inspecting and Maintaining Vinyl Siding
The vinyl siding on your home does help improve your home’s curb appeal, but its aesthetic appeal isn’t your siding’s only job. The primary purpose is to prevent the elements from damaging the interior and exterior of your home. In order for your vinyl siding to perform its best, it is important to routinely inspect and maintain the siding as well as do any siding repairs as needed as soon as problems are identified.
When inspecting vinyl siding, the primary things to look for are any areas where moisture may be getting under the siding and possibly causing damages to the interior and exterior walls of your home. Carefully inspect the panels for any damages, missing pieces, bowing or nail problems. During your inspection, play close attention to the areas around doors and windows and be sure to check for damages to caulking or cracks in joint seals.
Vinyl siding maintenance typically only involves once-a-year cleaning. To clean the siding, use a soft bristle brush and a mild cleanser and rinse with a garden hose. When vinyl siding is properly installed, it generally doesn’t require caulking; however, in some situations, caulking is placed beneath windows, especially basement windows, as an added protection against moisture. If there is any damage to the caulking, such as cracking or loose strips of caulking, be sure to repair it as soon as you notice the problem. It is also important to regularly trim and prune trees and bushes that are near your home. Make sure there aren’t any branches or bushes rubbing against the siding.
Vinyl siding repairs are generally very minimal when the siding is properly installed and maintained. If you notice extensive damages to the siding, such as vinyl that is fading, cracking or allowing moisture to seep underneath, it may be necessary to replace the siding as opposed to making simple repairs. Older homes with original vinyl siding may also show signs of aging, which could include extensive cracking and missing panels; aged vinyl siding may need to be replaced to ensure the structure of your home is safe from the elements. The best way to determine the extent of damages to your vinyl siding and determine whether the siding should be replaced is to have a professional siding contractor thoroughly inspect the outside of the siding as well as behind it.
If you have questions or concerns about your vinyl siding or are ready to schedule a consultation for repairs or replacement of vinyl siding, contact Community Builders, experts in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area.
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