Taking care of your siding ensures that it looks good and will keep your home protected all year-round. It’s the outer shell, if you will, of the house’s building envelope. When siding becomes streaked, worn or damaged it can really detract from your curb appeal, making your property appear uncared for. But damaged siding can also jeopardize the structural integrity of your home. Before winter takes hold, get your siding into shape with these fall maintenance tips.
Are there signs of damage?
Check the siding for damage about mid-fall when autumn weather is typically cooler but still nice enough to stay outdoors for longer periods of time doing fall maintenance chores. While cedar siding might have loose cedar shakes or the colour of the vinyl siding has significantly faded or aluminum siding develops rust spots, inspecting any kind of siding follows the same basic guidelines. Look for:
- Holes; pinholes; cracks
- Peeling paint; changes to the finish; chipped edges
- Buckling; missing panels
- Discolouration; rust marks; dirt build-up; streaks
- Gaps between panels or cedar shakes and the exterior wall to which they should be firmly attached
“Snapshot:” In addition to inspecting siding for damage, take the time to check each panel for loose or rusted nails.
“Big picture:” Before cleaning the siding, plan to repair any damage to siding panels that allows water in behind siding sections such as loose hardware, large holes, and noticeable cracks.
Should you repair or replace?
After inspecting the siding, repairs should be made, especially if you will be using a garden hose to help you to clean the exterior walls. Even carefully washing siding panels by hand with a pail of soapy water can push water in behind the siding where even the slightest amount of moisture can invite mold growth.
When siding panels are damaged something should be done about them as soon as possible. If it’s a minor ding it’s possible that it will be fine until spring. But medium to serious issues will most likely worsen as the weather turns colder. Should you repair the bad patch or replace the affected siding section or start over and have new siding installed?
It depends on the general condition of the siding and the extent of the damage. Age is also a good measuring stick – aluminum siding, cedar siding, vinyl siding and fiber cement siding have different life expectancies. But if you are constantly repairing the siding and leaks develop and mold appears anyway, replacing the old siding will protect your home more efficiently.
Importance of Cleaning the Siding
When grime, dirt, and other types of organic matter are allowed to build-up on siding, mildew, mold, and algae can be the end result. Algae growth is more of a cosmetic issue. However, mold and mildew are potential health hazards, weakening the strength of the building’s envelope and decreasing the air quality inside the home.
The Health of Your Siding
While not components of the siding, outdoor faucets, dryer vents, window trim, door trim, and gutters can impact the health of your siding. Prevent these elements of your home exterior from causing damage to the siding by:
- Winterizing outdoor faucets and checking them regularly for drips and other signs of wear
- Ensuring that dryer vents always face outward and not an exterior wall of the house (in a corner; opposite an add-on)
- Caulking the trim around windows and doors to seal off gaps where water could get in
- Cleaning the gutters twice a year or more when necessary to keep them free of dirt and leaves that cause overflowing and standing water