Replacing Exterior Caulking on Windows

Your windows let in beautiful views and sunlight, but they can also lead to leaking and draftiness if they aren’t caulked in properly. Caulk is used around the exterior joint between your windows and the exterior siding or brick to fill in the gap. If a gap were to remain, bugs, water, and wind could get inside.

Caulk is important because it keeps that gap closed. However, all caulk will eventually shrink and possibly crack. So what, is this another costly fix? No, it’s something you can do yourself with some time and a caulk gun.

What You’ll Need

  • A Caulk gun
  • A putty knife
  • A utility knife
  • Tubes of caulk
  • Some rags and some water
  • Your hands

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Checking Your Home’s Foundation

Foundation problems are a big deal – they can lead to some of the most costly repairs you could ever make to your home. Potential buyers will surely steer clear of any house that has foundation problems, so what can you do to prevent issues with your foundation from arising and how can you check on your foundation? We have a few tips for you today that you can use to check on the health of your foundation.

Monitoring Your Foundation

There are some simple warning signs that are indicators of problems with your foundation.

  1. A door or window will not latch or close properly, where it used to before.
  2. New cracks appear over doorways, windows or where walls meet ceilings.
  3. Cracks show up in vinyl flooring or ceramic tile.

At this point, you should inspect your foundation from the outside. See if there are any leaning or bulging areas around your foundation. Use a level to check the walls near the foundation to see if they are still plumb.

You can also poke a poured concrete foundation wall to see if the concrete is chipping or flaking. The concrete should resist any damage from a screwdriver. If there is excessive chipping, your original concrete foundation mix may have had too much water or salty sand, which was a common issue in homes built around the early 1900s.

Structural Components

Posts or piers in your crawl space or basement should stand straight and be firmly planted on concrete. There should be no puddles or signs of wetness. Any wooden posts should resist damage from a screwdriver as well. Puddles or wetness may indicate poor drainage around the foundation perimeter.

Tip #1

Make sure your gutters are not clogged, as your gutters are the #1 way for your home to avoid excessive rainwater from pooling next to your foundation.

Tip #2

Make sure the soil near your house slopes AWAY so that water is not naturally running toward your house. If there is an issue with this, you may have to regrade so that it will slope away from the house.

Cracks

If you can already see cracks in the foundation, not all hope is lost. Some cracks are normal and some are not.

Hairline cracks

Small, thin cracks along the mortar between concrete blocks are usually due to shifting and rarely a cause for concern.

Stair-step cracks in masonry joints

This may be an indicator of larger issues. Excessive water pooling due to plugged gutters may be adding to the amount of water pushing against your foundation.

Horizontal cracks

These are the most serious. You may have soil that is expanding and contracting with the freeze-frost cycle, causing major damage to the foundation.

Get a Pro

If you think you have foundation issues, you should hire a structural engineer to take a look. This doesn’t have to be massively expensive, usually from $500-$1000 to inspect your foundation and give you a reasonable idea as to whether you’ll need to fix or replace your foundation.

Repairing the issues may just require some waterproofing paint ($30/gallon), some bracings (thousands of dollars) or a whole new foundation (tens of thousands of dollars). Hopefully, catching some of the issues early can help mitigate the cost. And remember to keep an eye on your gutters and water drainage away from your house! Any increased water flow towards your home is a bad sign and should be fixed as soon as possible.

If you would like to see more maintenance tips from Pro Home Improvement, drop us a note. If you need help with other issues in your house or need a professional opinion on a big project, give us a call at 888 776-1998 and we’ll set up a time to meet with you.

Repairing a Door With Stripped Hinges

Ask a Contractor Average read time: 2 minutes
Fixing stripped door hinges

Hey Pro,

I recently had my kids swinging on the back door of my home, and they ripped the screws holding the door hinges up right out of the wood! Is there a way to remedy this without replacing the door frame?

Sharon Miller – Westland, MI


Sharon, Stripped hinge holes on door frames are a common occurrence. Especially when there are kids in the homes, I have two myself and I know they are not delicate when it comes to using handles. After years of stress, hinges can come right out of the wall! It can be frustrating, but it doesn’t…

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Replacing The Screen in Your Door

Springtime is coming! We are less than a month away from the first day of spring, and with it come all of the amazing smells of budding trees and flowers. Your sliding screen door or screen patio door is a great way to be able to enjoy the upcoming weather, but not if it has a hole. Holes are common in screen doors, but they tend to let in bugs and other critters.

Luckily for you, fixing a hole in a screen is not too difficult – it is definitely something you can do yourself with a quick trip to the hardware store.

What to Buy

Most hardware stores have rescreening supplies and door hardware for you to use, but you need to be aware of manufacturer specific parts. Anderson only sells parts through Home Depot due to an agreement. But, if your door is not Anderson, generic parts will probably work just fine.

Buy enough screen so that you can overlap the frame of the door by at least 2 inches on each edge. You will also need a new spline, which is the rubber tubing that holds the screen in a groove surrounding the frame. Spline tends to become brittle and break over time, so replacing that can be a good thing.
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Eliminate Drafty Walls

Insulation Advice Average read time: 2 minutes
Worker injecting foam into home's walls.

The bitter cold is here in Michigan, which means energy costs are on the rise. When you don’t feel comfortable in your own home, due to cold walls, you turn up the thermostat. But this only treats the symptom, not the cause. Sure, your house might warm up a bit, but there’s still a massive…

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The Facts About Ice Dams

Roofing Maintenance Average read time: 4 minutes
Ice dams can damage gutters

What Are Ice Dams? Ice dams are formed when heat from the inside of a home escapes into the attic and warms the roof decking during the winter. This heat, combined with heat from the sun, can melt snow on the roof. Melting snow on the upper roof and in the valleys then runs down…

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7 Questions for your Insulation Contractor

Insulation Advice Average read time: 3 minutes
Attic Insulation

Hiring the best insulation installer can provide a huge relief to your budget, your comfort and your peace of mind. Why? Because insulation installation is complicated, but if done right, can provide you with years of increased energy efficiency, savings and better comfort in your home. Most contractors will say they install insulation, but it’s…

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Ready for Winter? Insulate Your Attic!

Insulation Materials Average read time: 2 minutes

Insulating is something that will pay for itself many times over through reduced energy bills and increased comfort in your home. Can you afford something that will be free? Now that you have adequately prepared your attic by sealing it tight, insulating can now begin. How should I insulate? If you have done the prep…

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Preparing to Insulate Your Attic

Insulation Advice Average read time: 3 minutes
Attic insulation

Rather than giving a specific “how-to”, we’ll just lay out the fundamentals. From there, you can apply these concepts in a manner that makes the most sense for your specific home.

The Pro Home Fall Guide to Gutters

Gutter Maintenance Average read time: 2 minutes
Fall guide to gutters

If you are not prepared for the fall season in Michigan, your gutters could be in trouble. Gutters are a necessary part of making sure your home’s foundation stays as dry and stable as possible. They aren’t just for keeping rain off of your head. But gutters installed without excellent gutter guards can be a…

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