Product Maintenance Tips
Keeping your home safe and beautiful.
Check this page for helpful advice on product maintenance covered in our newsletter.
- Ice Dams
- Cleaning Vinyl Siding
- Cleaning Gutters
- Care of New Concrete
- Clean tilt & clean windows
- Black spots on siding
For more information about exterior product maintenance, contact us online or call us at (860) 233-4475.
In cold climates, attic water damage is often due to ice dams, which form when temperatures outside are freezing and attic temperatures are above freezing. The warmth of the attic melts the snow on the roof. This snow melt runs down the sloping roof, hits the colder eaves and refreezes. When this cycle repeats over several days, an ice dam forms.
Water damage occurs when water collects behind the ice dam, backing up under the roof covering. This water can leak into the attic or along exterior walls.
Ice Dam Facts
- The perfect conditions for ice dams to form are when outside air temperatures are in the low 20's (F) for several days with several inches of snow on the roof.
- Research has shown sun exposure in the winter has little effect on attic air temperature.
- Warm air (from living spaces below) penetrating into the attic is usually the culprit in the formation of ice dams.
Ways to help prevent Ice Dams
- Keep the attic air temperature below freezing by having:
Good attic ventilation to replace warm air in the attic with cold outside air.
Adequate attic insulation to reduce the transmission of heat into the attic from living spaces below.
- Use a snow rake to remove the new fallen snow from the bottom 3' roof perimeter.
- Have your gutters cleaned in the fall
- Call Bartlett Brainard Products today for a free inspection of your roof and attic. Learn the best way to avoid ice dams and water damage in your home.
The Vinyl Siding Institute recommends that you clean your vinyl siding every
year to prevent heavy dirt build up. It is easy!
- Pick a day that is not too hot. A fall overcast day is the perfect weather for this project.
- Rinse the siding with your garden hose, starting at the roof line and working your way down.
Refer to your warranty for their specific cleaning recommendations.
CertainTeed, a leading siding manufacturer, offers this recipe for a cleaning solution to remove mold and mildew:
Combine 1/3 cup detergent (ex. Tide), 2/3 cup Trisodium Phosphate (ex. Soliax),
1 quart 5% Sodium Hypochlorite (ex. Clorox) and 3 quarts of water.
Caution: Greater concentrations may cause damage to vinyl siding. Always test any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area before full use!
Fall is the perfect time to clean out those gutters.
- If weather allows, wait until the end of October.
- Clear out the debris in the gutter.
- Run water through the downspouts to make sure they are clear of debris. One stick can back up the whole system!
- Call Bartlett Brainard to find out about our Ground Control Leaf System and make this will be your final gutter cleaning!
In New England, spreading sand/salt mixtures is part of most homeowners' winter outdoor chores. But caution should be taken regarding this application to new concrete work. Avoid applying any salt mixture to concrete that is less than one year old. Only sand should be used. However if ice must be removed from new concrete, apply a salt mixture but scrape off the product as soon as it has done its job.
Directions on cleaning Tilt & Clean Double Hung windows:
- Raise the lower sash about 3 inches.
- On the top of this lower sash, press both release buttons inward at the same time (the releases are located on the edges of the frame’s top). Gently pull the top of the sash toward you, letting it “tilt” into the room
- Go through the same process for the top sash. Lower the sash about 3 inches. Press the two releases (found on the edges of the frame’s top) and gently pull the top of the sash towards you. Both sashes should be hanging down in front of you.
- Clean the top sash. Gently “tilt” it back up until it the releases snap into place. Raise the sash back into the top frame.
- Clean the lower sash. Gently “tilt” it back up until the releases snap into place. Lower the sash into the bottom of the frame.
Clean the interior glass of the top and lower sash as you did the exterior sill.
Source: Dr. Donald D. Davis, Penn State, Professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, expert in Sphaerobolus stellatus Tode
Some homeowners have noticed tiny black spots appearing on their vinyl siding, down spouts and windows. The spots are 1-2mm in diameter and rounded. They are the mature spores from the fungus, Sphaerobolus stellatus tode, which generally appears in spring and fall. This fungus is a wood-decay fungus and most often originates in wet, rotting mulch. The fruiting bodies orient toward bright surfaces, such as windows and vinyl siding. The nickname of this fungus is shotgun fungus or artillery fungus due to the speed and distance it shoots its spores (1/10,000hp and up to 20 feet.) These spores attach to vinyl securely and are very difficult to remove. They do not harm vinyl or glass, but are unattractive. However, if the spores are on wood, they can cause long term damage since they continue to grow.
Unfortunately effective cleaning methods don't exist, unless you clean them before they dry. At that time they'll wipe off with a cloth and most any spray cleaner. But once they dry, they're very difficult to get off. Pressure washing has had very limited success. Some have had better luck with tooth paste or Mr. Clean sponges (test on an inconspicuous area first!) A razorblade scraper is effective on glass.
The best answer is to prevent the spores from appearing in the first place. Solutions include: 1) use rocks, pine back nuggets or non-wood products for mulch; 2) change your mulch each year; or 3) use a combination of mulch and mushroom compost (found at Lowes and Home Depot.)
Links for more information:
Penn State's brouchure: "What is growing in my mulch?"
Dr. Davis web page: "Artillery Fungus: Frequently asked questions"
Article from the Journal of Environmental Horticulture entitled “Artillery Fungus Sporulation on 27 Different Mulches- A Field Study”
Article from Garden Scape, Mushroom Compost can help us win the war against Artillery Fungi, written by Donald D. Davis, Mike Fidanza and Larry J. Kuhns Dr. Sharon M. Douglass' article: "Sphaerobolus stellatus--The Artillery Fungus"; Department of Plant Pathology and Ecology, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station