Author Archives: Amity Home Maintenance Solutions

When do I need chimney repair?

smoke coming from a brick chimney

Is chimney repair necessary?

When many of us hear “Connecticut”, the Fall colors come to mind along with visions of a snow-covered land with trees in the Winter. Holiday-loving people picture beautiful Christmases with roaring fireplaces or old Saint Nick coming down with a bag of surprises. To be ready for those picturesque scenes though, homeowners need to get any chimney repairs necessary completed soon.

The chimney on your home isn’t just for decorative purposes around the holidays and it’s not just an entry for Ol’ Saint Nick. It also offers a level of fire hazard protection, which is why regular maintenance and inspections are necessary. Without these steps, you are putting your home at risk of fire, and that includes not getting any chimney repairs completed when they are needed. 

Some chimney repairs you can do yourself, but by hiring a professional chimney sweep or technician, you get their professional training, and experience, along with assurance they have all the proper tools to do the job. A professional chimney sweep will also give you advice on the best way to prevent any danger while operating your fireplace, making sure you know the proper methods and procedures. 

How much does it cost to repair a brick chimney?

The average cost of a chimney repair can start around $175 and go as much as $1,000, all depending on how many bricks are needed and the severity of the damage. With ten bricks or less needed for a chimney repair, the cost is typically less than $500. Anything with more than ten bricks can reach up to the $1,000 to $1,500. 

If that sounds expensive, the cost to rebuild a chimney because chimney repairs weren’t done when needed is more expensive. A complete chimney rebuild can cost on average between $1,000 and $3,000. The bigger the chimney, the more it can cost, with a tall chimney costing up to $5,000. 

For a partial stack rebuild, the cost of removing what is already there can cost up to $1,600. The factor that makes a total chimney rebuild so costly is the need for scaffolding. If the rebuild can be done from a ladder and the roof top, it won’t be as costly. 

Regardless of the costs, it is important as a homeowner to remember your responsibility to have chimney repairs done as soon as you notice them. Those small cracks getting patched will save you more money in the future than what you’re spending at the present time. That’s not to mention the importance of keeping your family and home safe.

A small crack noticed in the summer will become a large crack by next spring. The larger cracks that are ignored in the outer brick will only get deeper, allowing ice, rain, snow, and water to penetrate the chimney and fireplace. From there, it works its way into the ceiling, flooring, and walls, causing more expensive damage. So if you’re thinking of other chimney repair options, like chimney repair vs rebuilding or simply ignoring the cracks, you need to be prepared to pay out even more money on more severe issues, including risking your family and home to fire. 

How do you repair a chimney?

And can you repair a chimney yourself? If you don’t know who to call for chimney repairs, or there isn’t anyone available in your area, yes, you can do your own chimney repairs with some construction know-how. We offer the following steps, some of them which you may not need, for the DIY chimney repair process.

Repoint the Mortar

The mortar is what holds the bricks together and when you add new mortar, it is smooth and solid. The seasonal changes batter that smoothness, and over time, it crumbles. Mortar is softer than the brick it holds, which is one reason why it deteriorates faster and why it needs to be repointed or tuckpointed. Repointing or tuckpointing is the process of scraping out the old crumbly mortar and replacing it with new mortar.

This is done by using a joint raker. You want to remove the loose and weak mortar but leave any good mortar that is still present. You can use a hammer to tap out the more difficult, yet crumbly mortar, then cover over it all with a wire brush to sweep it clean. 

Next, using your garden hose, spray down the brick and wait 30 minutes before taking the next step. You want to make sure the roof is dry and safe. Now, with a mortar mixture like peanut butter, use a pointing trowel and push the mortar into the joints, pressing it so that it matches the existing mortar. With the tuckpointing tool, smooth it down at the joints, leaving it slightly concaved and recessed from the brick surface

Caulk the Crown and Flue

The chimney flue and crown are major avenues for water entry, causing damage to the fireplace and your home. Over time, gaps form in these areas, continuing down the flue from the top. Using a wire brush, clean debris like loose mortar and moss, then caulk any gaps with a high-heat mortar. 

Patch Large Crown Area Cracks

The chimney crown slopes to form the top section of the chimney and protect the masonry section by preventing water from pooling on top. Any cracks in the crown are problematic as much, or more than the vertical cracks because this is where ice and snow gather. Lingering moisture here is not good and immediate chimney repair cannot be stressed enough. 

Any crack of 1/8” and up to 1” can be repaired with a pre-mixed cement or mortar patch by injecting the repair mix in the crack using a squeeze bottle. Force it in the crack using a putty knife and allow it to cure for up to 6 hours, and for no less than 4 hours.

 Sealant Patch Hairline Cracks 

Hairline cracks or spider cracks can be patched a little differently than the large cracks we’ve discussed. The mineral particles in the mortar or other patching methods are larger than the hairline crack and won’t be a good solution. Instead, use a high liquid masonry sealer that will penetrate into the hairline cracks. This type of material also seals up any porous spots in the crown and prevents any additional hairline cracks. 

With the corner of your putty knife, scrape away the loose particles without enlarging the crack. Now apply the undiluted sealer with a brush. Typically one gallon is adequate, using two coats. 

Cracked Bricks – Chimney Repair

For single chimney bricks with a couple of small cracks, use a caulk gun with high-heat mortar. Start by cleaning the crack of any old mortar using a putty knife or flat head screwdriver. Then sweep over it with a wire brush. 

Now squeeze the high-heat mortar in the crack as deep as possible. If any extra mortar oozes out, wipe it off with a gloved finger then wipe the entire area with a rag. For hairline cracks, you can spread masonry sealer over them. 

Replace Any Cracked Bricks

Bricks that are severely damaged need to be removed and replaced. Using a masonry chisel, be careful not to disturb the bricks around it, slowly chip away the mortar between the bricks. Then, using a drill and masonry bit, bore holes in the mortar to help you reach far back between the bricks. 

With the brick loosened, pull it out and chisel away any residual mortar so the bricks are smooth. With a small trowel, “butter” the 4 sides of the new brick with mortar and push it into place, centered. Remove any extra mortar, and then smooth the joints using the tuckpointing tool.

Can chimney repair be done in winter?

It is not recommended. Fall and winter times are not the best weather conditions traditionally for chimney repairs because the mortar isn’t able to cure thoroughly. It is recommended to inspect your chimney in the early spring and early summer or have it professionally inspected, then schedule any chimney repairs before the weather gets too cool and wet. 

worker on a roof repairing a brick chimney

In Closing 

Oh, the most frequently asked question about any home repair is the same with chimney repairs. Will insurance cover chimney repair? This should be something stated within your policy and if you’re not clear, confirm with your agent. Chimney repair needed due to sudden and/or unexpected damage or loss is generally going to be covered by homeowner’s insurance. 

Damage and chimney repairs that are needed due to old age, or basic wear and tear, are not going to be covered. These are deemed as homeowner responsibility. A concern you may want to clarify with your insurance agent is wind damage. Some policies will not cover direct wind damage to a chimney, and repairs will be your responsibility. However, chimney repairs needed because the winds knocked a tree into your chimney will be covered. Call to confirm now before you need to know.  

Which metal roofing is best for your home?

Close-up of a worker installing a corrugated metal roof.

Why metal roofing?

If you haven’t shopped for new roofing on your home in a while, you may be surprised that many homeowners in Connecticut are going with a metal roof. Yes, you read that correctly – residential metal roofing has grown in popularity across the country in recent years. 

Homeowners and insurance companies alike have noticed that installing metal roofs for homes is a wise investment. For homeowners, the benefits of a long life, up to 40, 50 years or longer, and a unique curb appeal are attractive qualities in metal roofing. Other benefits a metal roof offers are: 

  • Durability
  • Weather-resistance
  • Lower utility expenses
  • Wind resistance
  • Mildew and mold resistance
  • Insect resistance
  • Rot resistance
  • Fire resistance – the big benefit insurance companies like about a metal roof! 

What types of metal roofing systems are used for residential purposes? 

There is no wrong answer to this question. There are several types of metal roof systems, and the choice should be made based on the architectural look you desire and your budget. Here, we have narrowed the list to the three most popular choices: 

  • Steel metal roofing

This is perhaps the most common choice for a metal roof on a residential structure. With choice of 2 gauges of 24” or 26” in a standing seam metal roof panel, with the 24” more than the 26” gauge because it is thicker.  A painted finish is often selected to provide a longer lifespan. 

  • Copper metal roofing

Another popular choice is a 16 ounce copper roof. The other weight choices are 20, 30, 60, and 90. Installed in a standing seam style, an expensive choice in metal roof materials, which is why many homeowners will choose copper only for accent purpose on bay windows and dormers, chimney caps, porches, or roof flashing.  With his lifetime metal roof, there will never be a need to replace it. 

  • Stainless steel metal roofing

Not a commonly used material for metal roof, but it is a strong material that is available in gauges like steel metal roof material. The galvanized metal doesn’t rust and it comes with a painted finish, giving it a long lifetime like a copper metal roof. The 24” gauge steel is more likely to stand up in a hailstorm than other metal roof materials, but it is expensive, even more so than copper. 

What are the different metal roof panel styles?

A metal roof will bring your home a unique architectural look and many other advantages and benefits. Options in different metal roof panel styles to choose from are: 

  1. Aluminum Metal Roof –  A lightweight material that is corrosion resistant, making it an ideal choice for a coastal environment.
  2. Copper Metal Roof – A long-lasting metal that develops a protective layer with a unique patina in color. 
  3. Zinc Metal Roof – An expensive choice in metal roofs that offers a very long life. This is an expensive metal that also will create a patina as it ages. 
  4. Metal or Steel Metal Roof – This is the most common of all metal roof types and is available in several different finishes.

Which metal roofing is best?

With so many types of metal roofing available, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which is the right choice. The best metal roofing materials for residential purposes are: 

  • Aluminum Metal Roof: The pros of aluminum metal roof is that it is a highly recyclable, lightweight material that doesn’t corrode or rust, it is a medium price point, and is readily available. The cons start with the natural color of gray/silver, and the thinner material dents easily and flexes with the temperature. 
  • Copper Metal Roof: A copper metal roof is aesthetically pleasing, durable, and energy efficient. This lightweight material can be soldered and is recyclable. The cons include the run-off staining, the cost, and the contracting/expanding with the temperature. The patina it gets over time can be a pro or a con, depending on your personal taste. 
  • Stainless Steel Metal Roof: A popular choice in metal roofing with its durability and weather resistance, it doesn’t corrode and has a lifespan up to 60 years or longer. With a low thermal expansion property, it doesn’t contract and expand with the temperature changes and comes in a large choice of finishes. The cons of this metal roof choice is the cost, and standing water can be a problem if draining isn’t sufficient. 
  • Zinc Metal Roof: A popular choice because it has stood the test of time for centuries. It is an abundant, all natural material that is eco friendly and is an energy saving material for cooling and heating. With a natural protective layer, it mends itself against corrosion, panel marking, and scratches. Easy to form while installing and easy to maintain afterward. The cons of zinc metal roof material is oil canning that happens and the corrosion on the underside with inadequate ventilation, along with the initial cost of installation. 

Each of these is a great solution for residential metal roofing, each creating a unique architectural aspect that makes a home stand out over other homes. There is no one solution for every home, each of these have advantages and disadvantages that should be considered along with the budget allotted for roofing. 

Home with a standing seam metal roof.

A Final Question – Can metal roofing go over shingles?

In most cases, yes, depending on the condition of the existing roof and the type of metal roof panels being installed. Each job is different and a judgment call from the roofing contractor. It is important to get several roofing quotes and compare the factors like installing over an existing roof or whether tear-off is required. If you’re interested in a metal roof in Branford, CT, reach out to Amity Home Maintenance Solutions at 203-390-7399.

Everything You Should Know About Siding Repair

Worker Repairing Siding

How do you repair damaged siding?

Damaged siding is more than just unsightly. Even small problems such as cracks and tears can lead to much bigger issues such as mold growth and pests. This leads to the important question of what can be done to repair damaged siding. Fortunately, you have plenty of options available to ensure your siding stays in top-notch condition. Call Amity Home Maintenance Solutions at 203-390-7399 if you need siding repair in Branford, CT today, or learn more about the options available to you here.

Can you repair pieces of siding?

Plenty of things can cause damage to your siding, from bad weather to falling branches. Major accidents can cause extensive siding damage, while smaller incidents can damage individual pieces of siding. In either case, you may wonder whether your siding needs to be replaced completely or if siding repair is possible. Fortunately, it is possible to repair siding in many cases, which can be a more affordable option for many than siding replacement.

Can you replace siding yourself?

When looking to replace the siding around your home, you may have considered whether it’s possible to do it yourself. Many repairs are easy enough that even those who aren’t handy with DIY projects should be able to complete them. However, specialized skills such as color matching may be required if you are attempting to replace individual pieces of siding.

How to Repair a Hole in Siding

If you plan to attempt DIY siding repair, there are a few things that can help you with the job. With the right tools and materials, most people can repair small to medium-sized holes and cracks in vinyl siding. Ways to repair a hole in siding include: 

  • Using caulk to fill in smaller holes and tears.
  • Using foil and caulk to fill in medium-sized holes and tears. 
  • Replacing a damaged piece of siding with a matching piece.

When should siding be repaired?

If there’s noticeable damage to your siding such as large cracks and tears, it is probably obvious it’s time for siding repair. However, when it comes to smaller areas of damage, you may wonder how urgent it is for you to repair your siding. Pay attention to just a few things and you can be a bit more certain your siding is in good condition for the long haul.

When to Replace Your Siding

One of the first things to pay attention to when deciding whether you need siding replacement is the siding’s age. Siding in the range of 10 to 15 years old is typically weakened and can become damaged far more easily if it isn’t damaged already. Meanwhile, there are a few types of siding damage that can cause bigger problems if left unfixed. These include significant gaps and siding that doesn’t lay flat as well as visible mold.

How do you fix a large hole in vinyl siding?

Larger holes in vinyl siding can be a lot more complicated to repair and may require materials such as replacement siding for the damaged area. Meanwhile, for areas of vinyl siding where there is extensive damage, it is typically best to call in specialists. Even handy homeowners aren’t always able to repair or replace their vinyl siding without a little help when more extensive work is required. 

Who can repair siding?

Fortunately, there are specialists available who can take care of any problems you may be having with your siding. It’s always a good idea to seek out the help of a repair expert who specializes in siding. This way, you can be sure the job is done right the first time. Additionally, by working with a team that focuses on siding repair and replacement, you have access to a wider range of materials. These often include more environmentally friendly and cost-effective siding options.

Finding the Best House Siding Repair Near Me

With all this in mind, there are some things you will want to consider when searching for house siding repair. It’s smart to seek out house siding repair from experts who have plenty of experience so you can be certain they’re able to take care of the job, no matter the problem. Homeowners are also advised to look at pricing when choosing professionals for siding repair to find an affordable option, especially with bigger jobs that require more time and money. 

House With Blue Siding

Call Us Today for Siding Repair and Replacement

Your siding can have a big impact on everything from the safety of your home to how much money you’re spending on bills. This is why we recommend you seek out siding repair and replacement ASAP so you can be certain it’s in the best shape possible. You can contact Amity Home Maintenance Solutions today at 203-390-7399 for siding repair in Branford, CT from a company you can trust.

What to do when you have storm damage?

storm on roof

Do you know how to tell you have wind damage?

When people from other parts of the country think about Connecticut, they picture snow covered homes in the winter or colorful leaves in the fall. What they don’t realize is that this area has storms like anywhere else with heavy rains, high winds, and even hail. Yes, Connecticut has the type of weather that leaves behind roof storm damage

It may not be as often as Oklahoma or Texas, but, when it is your home, the reality of storm damage and roof repairs is still overwhelming. Like homeowners anywhere else, sometimes it can be hard knowing how to tell you have roof storm damage if you don’t know what you’re looking for in the way of damage. So, let’s answer some questions about this subject and provide Connecticut homeowners information on the difference between wind damage vs hail damage and more. 

Even before winds reach hurricane or tornado rated speeds, the wind can cause roof storm damage. 

Damaged shingles are usually visible, like loose or missing shingles. Sometimes, they aren’t, so you shouldn’t assume that if you see any roof storm damage, you don’t have any. Here are 5 ways to know you have that roof storm damage are: 

Granule Loss

The granules on an asphalt shingle roof will wear thin over time, but it isn’t the minor granule loss you need to be concerned. The real concern should be when there are horizontal lines going across the shingles. They may look like bare spots here and there or you may see what appears to be cracks. These are lines indicating the  seal has broken and the granules rubbed off as the shingles started flapping in the wind. 

Water Leaks

When asphalt shingles are compromised as described above, the rain will get under them. You’ll typically know this has happened by discoloring on the ceilings and walls. This may not seem like a huge problem but left alone it will go from small roof storm damage to big major damage. You’ll begin to smell mold even though you can’t see it. This indicates there is moisture between the walls, then a small drip will start in the ceiling. The sooner you have a professional inspect for roof storm damage on the roof, the better. 

Debris

After a weather event, if you notices debris and tree branches in the yard, that indicates some strong winds were part of that. As you pick up that debris, if anything looks like it may be part of asphalt shingles, you need to have your roof inspected from roof storm damage. It may be from a neighbor’s home, or it may be from your roof. 

Flapping Shingles

Everyone doesn’t walk outside and look up at the roof every day, but you should do that at least once a month. Do a walk-a-round and if you notice any shingles askew or flapping, you have possible roof storm damage. It could also mean your roof has reached its prime and needs to be replaced. 

Divots

Yes, divots on your asphalt shingles are typically considered to be roof storm damage from hailstones, but high winds can cause divots when the seal breaks on the shingles. Regardless of if it is from hailstones or high winds, divots are not a good thing for asphalt shingles. 

What do I do if my roof is blown off?

During a hurricane, tornados, or thunderstorms, the winds pick up to a high velocity and can create a suction that raises a roof. You may lose some shingles, or your entire roof can be lifted up and blown away. Or your roof could be lifted for a moment and set right back down, looking like nothing happened. Either way, you need to have your roof inspected for roof storm damage. 

However, if your roof has been lifted off and is gone, or sitting partially on the house, your first plan of action should be to vacate the premises. Get your family to a safe place and worry about the house and the contents next. 

Once everyone is safe, call a roofing contractor for emergency roof storm damage temporary repairs. This will typically be a matter of plastic tarps being stretched over the gapping hole(s) and secured with 2×4 board nailed to the tarp and what is there of the roof or the house itself. 

Do not try to go inside the house to salvage anything! Yes, the missing roof is exposing your contents to the elements, but it has also weakened the structure’s integrity. Walls could cave in and any part of the roof that left could fall inside. 

While the roofing contractor is there making temporary roof storm damage repairs, take pictures of the damage then call your insurance company. The roofing contractor will probably take pictures as well, ask for copies of those pictures and share these with the insurance adjuster. 

Do you know how to tell you have storm damage?

A asphalt shingled roof can have severe damage after extreme weather events that requires roof storm damage repairs.  Storm damage can appear as bruises and dark spot on the shingles. This is where the granules have been knocked off and there may be cracks, holes, and even missing shingles. 

The aftermath of a tornado may not have destroyed your home, but you may see there are split seams and torn shingles. These are areas that will allow water under the shingles and onto the decking, resulting in a leaking roof and creating serious water damage. That water damage will mildew with mold forming along with wood rot. All of that will compromise the roof’s structural integrity, creating a possible danger of the roof collapsing. 

What do you do after storm damage?

When your home has been impacted by severe weather, and all has passed and safe again,  you need to do an inspection of your home. 

Look for damage, with these things in mind: 

  • Watch out for broken glass and exposed nails.
  • Assume downed power lines are energized & dangerous. 
  • Use a flashlight to inspect your home in the dark.
  • If you smell gas, shut the main gas line off, open windows, leave, call authorities.
  • Keep your mind focused and even temper as you choose a contractor for repairs. Check for current reference, certifications, licenses, and insurance.  Ask questions, collect information don’t make rash decisions without researching and reviewing. 
  • Know your insurance policy and how it works now before you need it. 

Can leaking ceiling collapse?

Yes, and this is something you need to be aware of whether it is leaking after a major weather event or just starts leaking for no apparent reason.  What you’re seeing now could be something that has built up for some time. Call a roofing contractor immediately and take steps to protect your home under the leak. 

This includes removing anything you can and covering everything else with plastic. If possible, get in the attic and see if you can locate a leak, place a bucket or pail under it. In the living area where the drip is coming from, place a tarp on the floor, a bucket or pail on it under the drip and use a screwdriver to poke a hole in the ceiling. This will relieve pressure and hopefully keep the damage contained. 

roof damage

Does insurance cover water damage from roof leak?

It will be the final decision from the insurance adjuster. If they find the water damage and leak is caused by a storm or other uncontrollable issue, then your policy will cover the damage and any repairs or replacement. If the adjust finds the damage to be owner neglect, then your claim will be denied. This is why we recommend you review your insurance policy and know what is covered and how it works now, before you need it. 

When your home has suffered any roof storm damage or other damage, the proof of the damage is on you. How do you prove storm damage to roof? it is important to get pictures and take notes, if possible, make a video.  You have the right to hire an independent adjuster and dispute what your insurance company decides. Call 203-390-7399 today for your roof storm damage needs in Branford, CT.

Is stone veneer any good?

stone veneer siding on garage and stairs

Can stone veneer be used outside?

If you’re considering updating your home with new siding, you should take a look at stone veneer first. A quality stone veneer that is installed professionally, can give your home that updated look that stands out in the neighborhood. Or use a stone veneer on an interior wall that will give any roof a new dynamic. 

In fact, when stone veneer was first introduced to the housing market, the outside was the starting point of came to be a great addition to a designer or interior decorator’s vision. Once you’ve installed stone veneer, you’ll find it looks amazing on any surface, inside, outside, and even around the swimming pool.

As a siding material for a home, stone veneer is a successful addition, lending to the Old World look for current home renovations or on new construction. Installing stone veneer on certain walls in the backyard can provide a soft transition between the manmade features and the natural layout of your landscape. 

How do you install exterior stone veneer?

The best way to install stone veneer on the exterior is to have it done professionally, but it is possible as a DIY project too. Stone veneer comes in many types and the preparation and installation process are a little different with each. While we’ll provide you the basics, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the precise directions and methods. 

  • The Preparation: This will depend on what type of surface you’re installing the stone veneer to because some will need a vapor barrier or metal lath and others can have it directly applied.  You’ll need to layout the pieces of your stone veneer so that you have the different patterns arranged to create a natural look.
  • The Vapor Barrier and Metal Lath: If your home is wood-framed, you’ll need to install a vapor barrier over a sheathing first. If you’re installing your stone veneer on a concrete block surface or poured concrete walls, a vapor barrier probably isn’t needed, but refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Next, install the galvanized metal lathe sheets to provide the mortar’s foundation under the veneer. This metal lathe is installed with roofing nails in the 6 inch spaced studs. The nails need to penetrate into the studs then anchor the sheathing between studs, again keeping a 6 inch spacing.
  • The Scratch Coat: Prepare a scratch coat of a mortar mix  made from one part N or S cement and two and a quarter sand. Or you can purchase a premixed scratch-coat mortar, then your mixture will be accurate. The same mortar can be used for the bond coating and seam grouting. Cover the complete lath surface with the mortar mixture using a trowel, no less than 1/2 inch thick and no more than 3/4 inch thick. Subject on the layout, you can add a tint to the coat so that any that is visible after the stone veneer is installed it becomes a part of the aesthetics. Scrape horizontal grooves in the scratch coat with metal scraper to give the mortar some  bite that helps the next mortar layer adhere. Let this set 24 hours before installing the stone veneer. 
  • Prep the Area and the Stones: Wash all the stones and lay them out flat to dry, rearranging to get your test arrangement. Purchase several boxes of stone veneer and then mix them together to give you a better blend of colors and shapes. Trim where necessary using a circular saw with masonry blade or a wet saw. You can also use a chisel and maul for more precise trimming. The trimmed edges are going to be covered by the tinted grout, so perfection isn’t required but when you place them on the wall, make sure the trimmed edges aren’t visible. Keep the veneer stones damp so they won’t absorb the mortar’s moisture.
  • Prep the Mortar Mix: Prep the mortar mix as described above for bonding the stone veneer. It should have a thick paste consistency, having plenty of water in the mix is key to reaching that consistency.
  • Apply the Mortar: Using a trowel, apply a half-inch thick layer of the mortar on the scratch coat and half-inch onto the back of the stone veneer piece, adjusting and leveling as you apply.  Work in small sections so that the mortar doesn’t dry out before you get to an area.
  • Applying the Stone Veneer: Start with installing the stone veneer with corners pieces wrapping around corners. Start at the bottom wall corner and work out, pressing the stone veneer firmly into the mortar, then hold in place for ten seconds. While pressing the stone veneer, gently rotate the stone gently so the mortar squeezes out. If the stone is easily moved up and down or side to side, and the stone veneer not sticking to wall your mortar is too thin and wet. With the corner pieces  installed, work the flat pieces outward, beginning at the bottom again and work upward. Carefully place the trimmed edges so they aren’t obvious. Keep narrow joints consistent width. Any mortar that gets out of place on the stone veneer, allow to dry than brush it away. 
  • Grouting the Joints: Using a grout mix, fill the stone veneer joints from a canvas bag with a metal nozzle. This is much like decorating a cake, as you’ll fill the mortar in a bag and squeeze as you go over the joints.  Keep the joint depth uniform with a slight recess, staying consistent. As the mortar dries, you can pack it into the joints with a point tool so there aren’t any voids.
  • Clean and Seal: Any excess dirt or mortar can be brushed away using a vinegar and water mixture and a steel wire brush  within 30 minutes, before the mortar fully dries. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for sealing the stone veneer and reseal every 2 years to maintain the look. 

Can you put stone veneer over drywall?

While stone veneer can be used on several different surfaces with proper preparation, you should not apply stone veneer to drywall, especially natural stone veneer. It is a heavy material and should have the support of cement backerboard or other type of masonry application. 

stone veneer siding as a compliment to vinyl siding

Is stone veneer cheaper than real stone?

Yes. When it comes to stone veneer versus natural stone, the stone veneer will always win in cost and looks. The method of how stone veneer is made is designed from natural stone, giving it an authentic appearance and feel. Because it is pre-engineered, installation is easier, another reason why it wins over the real thing. 

Because there are seams, a concern many have is, “Does stone veneer leak?” and the answer is it is possible. The focus on stone veneer is the appearance of the product, not the stability. A home’s interior can be damaged if the right procedures aren’t followed for prepping, installing, and sealing. Skipping the vapor barrier can lead to moisture damage inside the home, leaving mildew, mold, and wood rot behind. Interested in stone veneer siding for your home in Branford, CT? Call 203-390-7399 today.

Why do I need a roof inspection?

looking along roof

Other than after bad weather, how often should I get my roof inspected? 

It has been a heck of a winter this year across the country, and many parts of the country are still going through winter, like here in Connecticut.  As the ice and snow melt from your roof, inspection may be a good idea. Why? 

After a winter with ice and snow, maybe some hail, a roof inspection will let you know if your roof sustained any damage from these gifts of Mother Nature. With this type of roof inspection and repairs can often been done at the same time if they are small issues.

There are differing opinions on roof inspection frequency, but the most common recommendation is to have a professional roof inspection twice a year. Once at the end of spring and another during the fall a roof inspection and cleaning is usually sufficient. 

Some experts say a roof inspection every three to five years is adequate, but research has found that significant damage can occur more frequently, especially in certain geographical areas. By having a roof inspection more frequent than every three to five years, small issues can be repaired before they become bigger problems. In between the professional roof inspections, you should do your own roof inspection once a month.

How do you perform a roof inspection?

The roof is an important component of your home, so keeping well-maintained is essential. In addition to professional roof inspection twice a year, doing your own roof inspection is recommended.  With binoculars and a ladder, here are the things you should look for: 

  • Algae, Moss, and Leaves: With binoculars, most of your own roof inspection can be accomplished from the ground. Walk around your home, and look for algae, lichen, moss, and leaf piles or other debris. If left alone, these are things that can do serious damage to your roof because they trap moisture. That trapped moisture then seeps under the shingles and into the sheathing, compromising the roof’s structural elements.
  • Buckled or Curled Shingles: If your attic doesn’t have sufficient air circulating, the shingles will buckle, curl, and warp from the heat that builds up in the attic. The shingles are then compromising your roof’s integrity and water will get in, causing more problems. 
  • Aged, Damaged, Missing Shingles: Shingles that have aged or have been damaged, missing allow areas for water to get in. You can do a roof inspection while you’re cleaning your gutters too, you’re upon the ladder already. A gutter system filled with asphalt shingles is an indication you need a new roof. While you’re on the ladder, check the flashing around the chimney and vent pipes. 
  • Attic Investigation: An attic is the first place you can find signs of water seepage. Check the rafters and the wooden interior framing for moisture, mold, or rot. If you notice damage on the attic inside, you can pinpoint it from the exterior and know where repairs are needed. 

What do roof inspectors look for?

Some roofing companies and contractors will provide a basic roof inspection for free. That type of roof inspection typically consists of an exterior examination of the roof, often from the street, and inspecting components like the flashings, fascia, and soffit. While these are necessary components, you should have more thorough inspection twice a year that includes the following: 

The Exterior Roof Inspection

  • Blistered, curled, split roof shingles.
  • Loose or missing roof shingles.
  • Exposed, loose, or popped nails.
  • Broken, loose roof shingles along the hip lines or ridge.
  • Missing caulk.
  • Corroded, damaged, missing, or rusty metal flashing.
  • Sagging roof ridges.
  • Broken seals on roof shingles.
  • Shingles with extreme granule loss.
  • Cracks along chimney.
  • Inspect rubber boot seals around pipes.
  • Inspect gutters and downspouts.
  • Examine fascia board and soffit for any damage or rot.
  • Check shingle overhang. 

The Interior Roof Inspection

  • Inspect roof sheathing for cracks, damage, or rot.
  • Calculate and measure attic ventilation.
  • Deck sagging between rafters.
  • Check for any outdoor light coming through attic ceiling.
  • Inspect placement of attic intake vents.
  • Inspect bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans.
  • Check for leaks around chimney and vents.
  • Look for condensation, mold, or wet insulation.

How do you know if you have roof damage?

In addition to a leaking ceiling when it rains, some other indicators that you need a professional roof inspection are: 

  • Sunlight coming through the ceiling.
  • Moisture in the attic.
  • Discoloring and stains on the ceiling and walls. 
  • Ceiling sagging.
  • Increase in Energy Bills.
circled damage on a roof

How long do residential roofs last?

As with anything on the exterior of your home, there are factors that affect the lifespan of a roofing. The climate, any extensive weather activity, and your maintenance of having the roof and gutters cleaned on a routine basis. The average time frame for most roofs are: 

  • Coper, slate, tile roofing – 50+ years
  • Wood shake roofing – 30 years
  • Fiber cement roofing shingles  – 25 years 
  • Asphalt shingle or composition roofing – 20 years

Is a roof inspection after installation of a new roof necessary? Depending on where you live, it may be part of the building code and building permit. However, it doesn’t hurt to have it inspected after installation ad most roofing contractor will do an roof inspection as part of their packaging. For roof inspections in Branford, CT, call 203-390-7399 today!

Can Gutters Be Repaired?

A Technician Repairs Gutters

Can Gutters Be Repaired?

Have you noticed your gutters leaking? Has a section of gutters pulled away from your home? If you’ve noticed any problems like this, it’s time to get your gutters repaired. These problems might look intimidating, but they often require simple repairs and adjustments without the worry that you’re going have the expense of replacing your whole gutter system. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little sealant or scrap metal to patch a leak or a few new fasteners or hangers to repair a sag. For expert gutter repair in Branford, CT, get in touch with Amity Home Maintenance Solutions by calling 203-390-7399. We can find a repair solution to meet any of your needs.

Should I repair or replace gutters?

Making decisions about any kind of home repair, including gutter repair, is tough. Cost is a primary issue. A new gutter system can be expensive, but are you going to save money on repairs if in a few years you’re patching the same leak or repairing the same sag? What happens when a week later a new leak appears in another part of the gutter system? Will it be time to replace the gutters then, or do you just spend the money on another patch?

Deciding whether to repair or replace your gutters will primarily depend on how localized the damage is. If you have a couple of fissures, for instance, in the same area, you should be able to repair those with no further problems. But, if you inspect your gutters and discover several breaks throughout the system, you’ll save money by replacing the whole thing. Buckles and dents can often be repaired as well, as the damaged sections can be removed and replaced. With seamless gutters, however, you’re better off replacing the gutters than trying to repair the dents.

While a couple of isolated leaks can be repaired, if your gutters are beginning to detach at the seams, then you ought to consider a replacement. Gutters need to be fastened tightly for them to operate properly and protect your home from water runoff. This won’t happen if they are detaching frequently.

Fading or eroding paint on your gutters or home is also a sign it’s time to replace the gutters. Fading paint on the gutters means they’ve been separating frequently from the house. Cracking paint, stains, or rust spots on the home may indicate your gutters have begun to overflow and seep onto the home. Clogs are causing the gutters to corrode or disintegrate.

How often should gutters be replaced?

Several variables will affect your gutter’s lifespan, including maintenance, weather, and the type of gutter you have installed. Galvanized steel and aluminum gutters last about 20 years. Copper gutters have long lifespans of about 50 years. Even with great maintenance, after gutters reach a certain age, more problems requiring gutter repair will appear. The more problems you have with them, the more likely it is time to replace them.

Gutter repair and roof cleaning

Cleaning your roof and gutters regularly serves as a preventive measure for gutter repair. Gutters clogged with leaves and debris from your roof tend to leak, sag and detach frequently. A twice-yearly cleanout is a minimum recommendation. How often you clean your gutters and roof will depend on where you live, how much rainfall you get, and how many trees you have around your home. If your home is surrounded by evergreens like pine or cedar trees that shed tons of needles year-round, for instance, you’ll probably need to clean the gutters more often.

How do you fix sagging gutters?

A sagging gutter can often prove a pretty simple gutter repair. Usually, you’ll just need new hangers and a drill to attach them. To make the repair:

  • Check the wood behind the gutter. If the gutter has pulled away from the fascia board because the board is rotted, you’ll have to replace the board first before attaching the gutters.
  • Attach the hangers under the gutter’s front edge and then hook it over the back edge.
  • Screw in the new gutter hangers into the wood trim at intervals of three feet along the whole length of the gutter that’s sagging. For stronger attachments, the hangers should be screwed into rafters, if possible.

Why is water dripping between gutter and fascia?

If you’ve noticed water dripping behind your gutter, whoever installed it neglected to install flashing over the gutter’s back. This can easily be resolved by installing a gutter apron.

Gutter repair parts

For quick gutter repairs, you want to keep these parts and materials on hand.

  • Fasteners and hangers
  • Sealant for leaks
  • Scrap metal for patches
A technician Installs a Gutter.

Gutter Repair Near Me

Who does gutter repair in Branford, CT? If you’re looking for fast, effective repair services, you need to look no further than Amity Home Maintenance Solutions. We offer a full range of repair solutions to get your gutters flowing properly again. To schedule a service appointment, all you need to do is call 203-390-7399.

What is better laminate or vinyl plank flooring?

laminate flooring in your home

Quality home flooring options

Many of the houses being refurbished or remodeled today are choosing laminate flooring like wood flooring to bring the authentic look back with the conveniences of today’s materials. With so many laminate flooring ideas available today, it is easy to see why laminate flooring has become a popular choice, especially when incorporating the cost. 

Even with the growing popularity of laminate flooring, there are still concerns and questions from those who haven’t taken the plunge with this material. A popular question, and somewhat confusing by many why it is a concern is, “Does laminate flooring devalue a home?”. It is difficult to say what type of flooring, is the best values-add to a home. What is clear for sure is that buyers prefer hardwood flooring over carpeting, and there is slight difference in the price and ROI between engineered hardwood and actual hardwood. 

Laminate flooring though, is a different breed. It is easy cleaning and scratch-resistant. It can be installed where natural hardwood can’t be installed, and it is fifty percent cheaper, which is why it won’t be a value-add for reselling a home. 

However, while laminate flooring mimics hardwood, it isn’t hardwood! If you’re choosing what to install in a high-traffic zone, laminate isn’t the way to go. It will wear and tear like hardwood, but you can’t sand it and refinish is like hardwood flooring. To get the best ROI possible in flooring, go with actual hardwood flooring. 

Is laminate waterproof?

Laminate flooring has one layer of moisture-resistant element, making it a water resistant flooring from the top to bottom. Where liquid is spilled, laminate flooring is treated so that it can’s seep through to the bottom where it interlocks. This stops the potential for mildew or mold from growing under the flooring.

However, if your home develops a leak under the laminate flooring, to make laminate flooring waterproof from the bottom, it needs a vapor barrier installed before the laminate flooring is installed. 

Can you mop laminate flooring?

No, water and wood are not meant to be together. Here are the recommended steps for cleaning your laminate flooring:

  • Keep steam cleaners and wet mops away from laminate flooring. They can cause irreversible damage to the flooring. 
  • Blot pills with a damp cloth as soon as they occur. 
  • For tough spots, like ink, lipstick, oil, paint, or tar, use a clean white cloth with acetone nail polish remover to remove the mark. Then wipe it dry with another clean white cloth, making sure no residue of acetone nail polish remover is left.  
  • Dust, sweep, or vacuum using a hard floor attachment without the rug beater on a regular basis. This will keep dirt and grit from accumulating that dulls and scratches laminate flooring. 
  • Using products specified for laminate flooring for periodic cleaning. 
  • Do not use oil-soap detergent, soap, or water to wash or wet mop laminate flooring. This will cause the floor to delaminate, swell, and warm as well as separate the joints. It will also void the warranty. 
  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners, chlorinated cleaners, strong ammoniated, or steel wool to clean laminate flooring. 
  • Do not use buff or polish by machine.
  • To remove candle wax or gum,  place ice over the area to harden it, then scrape with a plastic scraper gently. Then wipe clean with a clean damp cloth.

How do you clean laminate flooring naturally?

When you have the right mop and products, cleaning laminate flooring is easy! Get a microfiber mop and purchase a ready-made laminate flooring cleaner or make your own with this recipe by pouring the following three ingredients into a spray bottle:  

  • 3 parts water 
  • 1 part vinegar
  • 1 squirt of basic liquid dish detergent

Now follow these easy steps: 

  1. With microfiber mop, dry mop, or vacuum. This will get the dust bunnies, hair tumbleweeds, and other large items. 
  2. Using water and the cleaner, dampen the microfiber pad and mop the laminate flooring.
  3. When done, rinse the microfiber pad thoroughly and let dry.
polished laminate floor

What are the pros and cons of laminate flooring?

Any flooring material you choose will have pros and cons, and laminate flooring isn’t any different. With laminate flooring and installation, you’ll find the following pros: 

  • Installation is easy
  • Minimal maintenance required
  • Low cost
  • Moisture-resistant from the top
  • Available in a hardwood or tile look-a-like

With these benefits, what could con could laminate flooring have? A few, read on to find out: 

  • Cannot be sanded or refinished
  • Slippery.
  • The wrong color and style can look fake
  • No value-add to the real estate

Laminate flooring can be a beautiful addition to any room in your home, if you’re planning on living there for a while. If you’re fixing a house up to resell, laminate flooring may not be the way to go if you’re hoping to get your money back. It won’t necessarily lower the value, but it isn’t a value-add either. Homes with young children and a lot of foot traffic should avoid laminate flooring as well. Need laminate flooring for your home in Branford, CT? Call 203-390-7399 today.

How are water leaks detected?

shingle roof leak

Where to you start with a roof water leak fix? 

A roof leak is never any fun, but it is worrisome, especially if you’ve just discovered it and you’re not sure how long it has been leaking. Now that you know you have a roof leak, the task of finding a roof water leak begins.

Well, this can all depend on where the roof leak has appeared. Although, where you see water dripping or a water stain doesn’t necessarily mean that is the exact area of the leak. Why? Finding  water, roof is leaking is not always the culprit.  Water travels, typically downhill, so that roof leak could be coming from almost any part of your home. So, you start the investigation and inspect the roof. Possible issues on the roof could be: 

  1. Bent, cracked, missing flashing
  2. Bent, curled, missing shingles
  3. Roof valleys aren’t sealed properly
  4. Roof vents seals are cracked, loose, or missing
  5. Ice dam build up
  6. Skylight seals are leaking
  7. Clogged or broken gutters
  8. Chimney sealing is cracked, loose, missing
  9. Attic condensation

Even a roof leak water in walls can be from any of these issues as the water is working its way down between the walls. An upstairs bathroom or HVAC system on the roof could cause a leak in a wall, not just a roof leak.

 So, yes, chasing the source could take some time and it may be best to call a professional roofing contractor. If the roofing contractor finds the leak to be from another source that isn’t roof related, they will advise you where they found the water leak. Then you call your plumber or HVAC technician. 

What to do if there is a water leak in your home?

If the water is coming through the roof in a rainstorm, you want to place a  roof leak water catcher under that area, like a bucket with a tarp or towel under it. This will prevent it from damaging anything more than it already has.  What if isn’t a roof leak in a rainstorm? 

Another non-roof leak you may have could be from the HVAC system in the attic or on top of the house. Most times, this is from a clogged condensate drain line. You should still place something under the leak as we described and then go up in the attic to see what is happening. 

The condensate drain line and drain pan need to be flushed out and cleaned. You can do this yourself or call a professional HVAC service. While they are there, inquire about a HVAC trap that will turn the air conditioning system off as soon as the drain water has reached a certain level and stop that from happening again.  

Another thing to consider is a regular maintenance agreement with the HVAC professional. They will check the entire system, including the attic portion. In the attic, they will drain, flush, and clean the condensation line and drain pan each time. This would be a step in preventive maintenance, saving  your home from expensive damage and from having insurance claims rejected for a roof leak that wasn’t a roof leak. 

What is a leak detection test?

In the plumbing industry, water leak detection testing has been around for several years. Methods of plumbing leak detection includes hydrostatic testing, infrared, laser technology, among old fashion testing. 

  • The old fashion testing is done by turning all the water off inside and any exterior water outlets, then watch the water meter. If the meter is moving and no water is turned on, this indicates a leak between the water meter and the house. Another method tried and true in the plumbing industry is by sound, but there is equipment available to give the plumbers better sound tracking. 
  • One method to detect a roof leak is done by going into the attic with a flashlight and check for any evidence of a roof leak. That evidence would be black marks and/or mold on the attic ceiling  and/or the insulation, as well as water stains. 
  • Today, when it comes to a roof leak, there is equipment available for roofing contractors to help locate the leak if there is nothing obvious. Infrared technology is available for roof leak detection now that allows the contractor to look through the roof surface and reveal any potential leak sources. Infrared also helps identify any trapped moisture inside the roof assembly using a different filter. This will reveal any potential problems or sources for an elusive roof leak.
leak in ceiling

What is the best water leak detector?

For the homeowner, your own visual check for roof conditions is the best water leak detection. At least once a month, walk around the outside of your home and check the roofing from the ground. If you can, climbing up a ladder and get a visual from higher up is a good idea. 

Another option, and recommended by insurance companies and roofing contractors, is an annual inspection by a professional roofing contractor. This can be done at the same time you have your gutters cleaned. If there are a lot of trees around your home, you may consider doing this twice a year. 

Now that you have found a roof leak and have a wet ceiling and wall, how long does it take for a wall to dry out after a leak? It will depend on the wall thickness, the material the wall is made and how “open” it is around the wall as to how quick it will dry out. Warm weather is your friend for drying time, and if you have fans blowing on the wall can help speed this up.  Anything you can do to get air all around the wet area will speed the drying process up too. 

What we can tell you for sure is to make sure it is thoroughly dry to keep it from mildewing and growing mold.  This is the last thing you need in your walls is hidden mildew and mold because this will begin making everyone in the house sick. Call 203-390-7399 today for roof leak help in Branford, CT.

What Does Chimney Repair Involve?

broken down chimney

How long do brick chimneys last?

A chimney on a rooftop usually means there is a fireplace inside the home. Whether the fireplace is working or not, the chimney needs to be good condition, especially a brick chimney. If the fireplace is working, the chimney is where the exhaust and smoke escape, keeping the house from filling up and choking everyone. So, chimney repair keeps the inside of the house safe as well as keep aesthetics good. 

A brick chimney that is well-maintained and cared for can last 100 years. Brick chimneys and fireplaces are known to last as long as the structure they are occupy, even longer. If you’ve ever been on a country drive and saw an old homestead, the chimney was still standing but the house was dilapidated, even gone.

 Whether the previous homeowner had fireplace maintenance and chimney repair done is what gave it a longer life, we’ll never know. Today, we know that there are three main factors that influence the durability of a brick chimney and fireplace: correctly installed, proper maintenance and upkeep, and when needed, professional chimney repair service. 

How do you fix crumbling chimney bricks?

Brick fireplaces are the epitome of a cozy home, until the bricks and mortar begins to crumble. Professional chimney repair is always a wise option, but the DIY homeowner can learn by watching numerous videos about how to repair a chimney and do some smaller chimney repair process with the following steps: 

  • Repointing the Mortar

Mortar is that stuff in between the bricks and holds them together and over time, it can age and crumble. The problem with that is a). It doesn’t look good and b). the bricks start to crumble and fall. Repointing is the process of cleaning out the crumbling mortar and replace it with new mortar.

Clean the crumbing mortar with a joint raker the sweep it with a wire brush. Next rinse the chimney with the water hose and then let it dry for thirty minutes. 

While that is drying, mix up your mortar to a peanut butter type consistency. Once the chimney is dry, use a pointing trowel and press the new mortar in where the old mortar came out, smoothing the joints.  

  • Caulk the Crown and Flue

The area where the chimney can leak water is between the crown and fule. You want to use the wire brush again and clean out the debris, loose mortar, and moss. Then using a high-heat caulk mortar, fill the gaps around the crown and flue.

  • Patch Large Crown Area Cracks

The chimney crown the sloping cap at the top section of your chimney. Using a pre-mix cement or the mortar you’ve mixed, fill the cracks and smooth with a putty knife. This typically take 4 to 6 hours to cure, longer for larger cracks.  

  • Seal and Patch Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are repaired with a water repellent solution that comes in a liquid consistency so that an penetrate inside the hairline cracks. Use the putty knife to clean away any loose particles without enlarging the crack. Then use a brush to apply the undiluted water repellent sealant. 

  • Cracked Brick Repair

Small cracks of individual chimney bricks can be repaired using a caulk gun and a high-heat mortar. Clean the crack with the putty knife and sweep the brick clean. Apply the high-heat mortar into the crack and with a gloved finger, wipe clean any excess mortar.

  • Chimney Repair and Replace

If you find that there are bricks in your chimney that need more than minor repair, or need repair, it is best to call a professional roofing contractor or mason. Not all roofing contractors do brick chimney repair, but usually have a few contacts that can provide you names and numbers. 

Why is water coming down my chimney?

  • Raining Straight In: If your chimney doesn’t have a cover, you’re going to have more than rain coming through. Animals, birds, critters, debris, and insects are making their way into your home through the chimney. Have a chimney repair professional install a chimney cap immediately. 
  • Chimney Crown Crack: The  cement part of the chimney top is the crown and where bricks go up around the flue liner. If the crown has cracks, rain is going to come in. 
  • Condensation: This is common in older homes: there isn’t a chimney liner. Without the liner, the chimney will leak condensation. Have a chimney repair specialist install a liner and the problem is fixed. 
  • The Flashing Leaks: If the flashing is bent, loose, or missing, the rain will work its way into the chimney. A professional roofing contractor can repair or replace the flashing in just a few hours. 
  • Leaking Bricks: Water will pass through bricks and mortar and if the crown is filled with water and freezes then thaws, it is coming to come into the chimney. Your best solution is to have a chimney repair service waterproof your chimney. While they are there, they will check the chimney for any repair needs
  • It Isn’t the Chimney: Just because there is a leak coming in at the chimney doesn’t mean it isn’t from another area of the house. A professional roofing contractor can check this for you and refer you to chimney repair specialist. 
chimney repaired

Does a brick chimney need to be sealed?

Yes!  The average homeowner doesn’t think about chimney and fireplace maintenance beyond the flue.  IF the chimney isn’t repaired and sealed from top to bottom, the crown will be destroyed first and then the chimney. 

Will homeowners insurance cover chimney damage? As a homeowner, you have homeowner’s insurance, but when it comes to filing a claim, what is chimney repair – your responsibility or doe the insurance kick in for repairs? 

Like your roof, it will depend on several factors.  If the chimney is knocked off by high winds, yes your homeowners will most likely pay for it. If your chimney is leaking, the insurance adjuster will come out and inspect the chimney, roof, and fireplace. If they find homeowner neglect, failing to have it sealed or there isn’t a liner, then your claim will be denied. Call 203-390-7399 today.