Interior Water Pipes: Preventing and Dealing with Freezing

indexWith the bitter cold temperatures this time of year, frozen water pipes are a huge problem.   Freezing pipes can create even more problems if the pipes burst from the pressure.

Water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on pipes, causing them to break. Even with insulation, your pipes can be at risk of freezing. Some ways to prevent freezing pipes inside your home include:

  1. Keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher – even if you are leaving your house for an extended period of time.
  2. Open cabinet doors below sinks – this will allow heat from inside your home to circulate and keep pipes warmer.
  3. Allow water to drip from faucets – both hot and cold. If water is moving, there is less chance it will freeze. It is also important to note that hot water may freeze before cold water. So, leaving both drip will help keep water from freezing.
  4. In colder areas of your home, like a basement, put a heat tape around pipes.
  5. Identify cold air drafts coming from a flue or chimney chase that may be near pipes and caulk the gaps, or use spray foam insulation.

If you have had issues with freezing pipes in the past, you may want to add a recirculating pump. Although it’s purpose is to provide instant hot water at your faucet or shower, helps to keep pipes from freezing but helps by keeping the water circulating constantly through both the hot and cold water lines.

If your pipes freeze:

  1. Try thawing the pipes under the sink with a hair dryer. Make sure the faucets are still on so melting water can drip out.
  2. Heat a pot of hot water on the stove and soak towels in it. Wrap the heated towels around cold areas of the pipes.

It is important to eliminate any drafts in your home that will allow cold air to enter. Ensuring your house is sealed properly with new windows, caulking, insulation, etc., should help when cold temperatures hit. Contact your contractor for a home inspection to ensure your home is energy efficient.


Kitchens – Renovate or Remodel?

kitchenDuring these cold, winter months, you spend more time indoors. Because you’re indoors so much, you tend to notice things you would like done to the interior of your home. So, how are you feeling about your kitchen?

If you’re considering a kitchen remodel, there are a couple things to think about. The biggest decision is whether to renovate your kitchen or do a complete remodel.

What is the difference between a renovation and remodel?

  • Renovate means to “make new again.” This would include repainting, re-facing cabinets, add other finishes and fixtures, including light fixtures, faucets, etc. This wouldn’t alter your kitchen drastically but would give it a “refreshed” look.
  • Remodel would change the entire use of your kitchen or alter its structure. When you completely transform a space, like your kitchen, it is considered a remodel. This could include changing the layout of the room and creating a completely reconfigured floor plan.

When deciding whether to do a remodel or renovation, you really want to think about your specific needs or how you plan to use your kitchen long term.

  1. Are you looking for a more open concept kitchen layout and want to combine a kitchen/dining room or kitchen/living room area?
  2. Do you want to install a kitchen island to add more work space while cooking?
  3. Do you want to change the configuration of your cabinets and move appliances to a different location within your kitchen?

Your contractor could give you advice and help you decide what is best for your home and kitchen space. He would consider all aspects of the kitchen including your design preferences, layout and also structural considerations to ensure the renovation or remodel will meet your specific needs and flow with the style of your home.

Fall Exterior Home Maintenance: Get ready for winter!

fall_home-gutterWe are never totally certain on what kind of winter we will have. No matter what the forecast, it is important that your home is ready for any weather event and freezing temperatures.

One of the most important things to check is all the exterior hose bibs. In order to prevent these pipes from bursting when weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the hose bibs and run the water until the pipes are empty. If this is not done, water can freeze up and damage the pipes.

It’s also a good idea to inspect, or have a professional inspect, your roof for damaged shingles. If shingles are curling, buckling, they should be replaced prior to freezing temperatures. If you have a skylight, chimney or pipes on your roof, you’ll also want to check the flashing around those for any leaks or gaps to prevent heavy snow and ice from finding its way in.

Check any areas around your home that may need a coat of paint. With less humidity in the air, fall is a good time of year to touch up anything and keep the wood protected this winter.

A good tip for energy efficiency in your home is to check the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. If there are any holes, they will need to be filled with caulk or the wood will need replaced.

Your licensed contractor can also inspect your home and ensure it’s ready for a winter freeze!

Please vote for Wilkins Contracting as your Hometown Favorite!

Stay safe during the July 4th Holiday Weekend

Old Fashioned Summer PicnicThe July 4th Holiday is the usually the greatest time of summer with picnics and fun with family and friends. Along with the good times usually includes barbequing and fireworks. During this fun-filled day, it is so important that you keep you and your home safe.

A grill fire can cause extensive damage to your home and injury to you and others around you. Follow these tips to help prevent injury and damage:

  1. Keep your grill outside
  2. Keep a fire extinguisher close to your grill area
  3. Do not store flammable liquids (like starter fluid) near the grill
  4. If your grill is lit, do not leave it unattended
  5. Keep children and pets away from the grill.
  6. Keep your lit grill away from low tree branches, deck railings, wood piles or other flammable materials

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) statistics, fireworks were involved in 8 deaths and 11,400 injuries treated in US Emergency Rooms in 2013. Also reported were nearly 18,000 reported fires, including structure fires, vehicle fires and outdoor fires.

Some things that can help keep you and your home safe if using outdoor fireworks include:

  1. Never let children light or handle fireworks
  2. Do not alter store-bought fireworks
  3. Know what your fireworks do before you light them (i.e., Do they spin? Do they stay on the ground or move upwards?
  4. Light fireworks at a safe distance from buildings, vehicles, dry grass or other flammable materials.
  5. Keep a full bucket of water readily accessible in case of emergency

Even better advice regarding fireworks is to leave them to the professionals. They take measures to ensure a safe fireworks display. Sit back and enjoy the show….keeping you, your loved ones and your home safe from fire and injury.

No matter what you do, have a safe and happy July 4th holiday!

Replacement Windows: Making the Best Choice

replacement windowsAre you thinking about replacing the windows in your home with better, energy efficient windows? There’s a lot to think about when deciding what to buy.

In addition to energy efficiency, you have the choice of different types and designs of windows. Some things to consider when deciding on your windows:

  1. Energy Efficiency – Some window designs are more efficient than others. For example,
    1. Double-hung windows are traditionally found in many homes. They can be an efficient choice and easy to keep clean.
    2. Casement windows are popular in windy areas. These windows have a crank that swings the window outward to open and seal themselves tight when the wind blows in toward the house.
    3. Picture windows don’t usually open and come in many shapes and sizes. This doesn’t mean they aren’t efficient depending on your glass choice and gas filled interiors. These are popular in larger rooms.
  2. What’s inside the frame? – A double-paned window will provide significantly more insulation than a single-pane. That’s because there is usually Argon gas between the two panes, offering additional insulation. There are other options with additional costs associated with them that may or may not be more energy efficient. This will depend on your specific location.
  3. What’s the best choice for frames? – Some materials are less prone to heat and cold transfer than others. Your ultimate choice will depend on what looks best on your home and your budget. Here are some options:
    1. Vinyl – Vinyl may be your least expensive option but that doesn’t mean it’s not the best. A well-constructed and properly installed vinyl window can be the most practical choice for your home and budget and still offer excellent energy efficiency through insulated glass and tight construction that reduces air leakage.
    2. Wood offers a great insulative value since wood doesn’t conduct temperature as easy as metals. They do require more upkeep than vinyl, wood-clad or aluminum frames. There is also potential for rot which means wood may not be your best choice.
    3. Aluminum is not the top performing material in terms of heat loss but they are practical in rainy and humid climates. They meet coastal building codes in hurricane-prone areas; but in the northeast may not be worth the expense.
    4. Wood-clad windows seemingly offer the best of both worlds. A low maintenance exterior, usually vinyl or aluminum, encases a temperature-transfer-resistant wood interior. One caution against these windows is in wetter climates as wood-clad windows can be prone to water intrusion, which can cause rotting where water tends to pool. Proper installation of wood-clad windows should include waterproof rubber membranes around the cladding and the sill pan. This will minimize moisture intrusion and wood deterioration.

As with any home renovation, your contractor can recommend the best option for your home type and location.

Tim Wilkins, Jr. – Certified Vinyl Siding Installer

Tim JrIn May, 2014, Tim Wilkins Jr. completed a training course and examination sponsored by the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) and is now a Certified Vinyl Siding Installer. By completing this course and passing the examination, Tim joins the top vinyl siding installers in the United States and Canada.

The VSI Certification training course was taught by a VSI Certified Trainer. Before taking this course, you are required to have at least two years’ experience in siding installation. Tim’s certification is valid for three years at which time he will be required to recertify in order to remain on the active list of CerVSI Siding Installer Logotified Installers.

The main things a homeowner will look for in an exterior cladding are low maintenance, beauty and durability. They want and deserve advice and recommendations from a contractor who is knowledgeable in all the aspects of vinyl siding installation. To ensure you’re working with a Certified Vinyl Siding Installer, you can visit

Congratulations to Tim on this important achievement.

Dreaming of a new deck?

DecksIt’s that time of year. The trees are starting to sprout buds and the weather is definitely warming up. You always enjoy entertaining outside or just sitting and soaking up the sun. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice deck to use for sun bathing or an evening barbeque?

Decking material comes in different materials and colors, making them durable and easy to maintain. Some are wood and pressure treated but vinyl decks are becoming more and more popular.

When thinking about a deck for your home, it’s worth thinking long-term. You’ll want to consider materials and costs but also consider things that are more precious…like a lazy lunch on a sunny afternoon with the kids, some “me” time to lounge and read a good book, or family barbeques.

Some materials to consider when looking at designs and costs include:

  1. High-performance composite decking – This is a more costly option but is easily cleaned with soap and water, resistant to stains, scratches and mold, and has a natural wood grain finish.
  2. PVC (Vinyl) Decking – This is a plastic material with no organic content making it a low maintenance option. This material is stain, scratch and mold resistant. It also features a finished look without needing paint.
  3. Early-generation Composite Decking – This is a durable product made of part wood and part plastic that won’t rot or splinter. It is made from earth-friendly materials but can fade and stain. It is also more prone to mold and mildew and requires periodic cleaning with deck wash.
  4. Wood decking – This is exactly how it reads…real, natural wood. Wood decks retain a traditional feel and are the most affordable option for decking materials. It is easy to work with but is also susceptible to splintering, rot, splitting, swelling, twisting and fading. More yearly maintenance such as painting and staining is necessary with wood decking.

Some materials will allow for more customized design options like curves and multiple colors, as well as wood grain patterns. Others are more limited but can also add the beauty and functionality you are looking for.

You’ll want to talk to your contractor who can make recommendations on the best decking design and materials to best meet your needs.

Are you ready for summer heat?

indexIs your house prepared for a hot summer?  As cold as this past winter was, you can anticipate an equally as hot summer.  Will your house stay cool if the temperatures get hot?

Insulation plays a key role in keeping your home cool in the summer, just as it does to keep you warm in the winter.  With a properly insulated home, you are sure to stay comfortable the entire year, no matter what the temperature is outside.

Having adequate insulation in your home will ensure your house is energy efficient.  This means your attic and walls should be properly insulated.  Some things to consider when looking at insulation is:

  • R-Value – Depending on what part of the county you live in will determine what the recommended R-Value is needed for your home.  For example, if you live in a colder climate, like Pennsylvania, you would want a higher R-Value throughout your home.  R-Value is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.
  • Type of insulation – Depending on where you need insulation will determine what type you use.  Your attic, for example, will typically use Fiberglass.  Walls can be rolled or blown-in insulation, which can be fiberglass, foam board, etc.

Your contractor can provide you with recommendations and options for you based on the type of home and location where you live.  They can evaluate what you already have and where improvements can be made to keep you as comfortable as possible throughout the entire year.

Siding is Not Just Siding

SidingAs warmer weather approaches, many homeowners start thinking about improvements to the exterior of their home.  One of those improvements is new or replacement siding.  Siding comes in many different colors, but it comes in different types as well.

Some siding types to consider include:

  1. Traditional Lap Siding – mostly referred to as “vinyl siding,” Traditional Lap Siding is the most popular cladding for homes.  Because of its simple lines, it is easy to install.  Today’s vinyl siding includes many different textures, shadow lines and colors to meet individual homeowner’s needs.
  2. Fiber Cement Siding – This type is similar to traditional lap siding with specific performance attributes relative to the climate where the siding will be used.
  3. Insulated Siding – A home insulation system can have many benefits.  Insulated siding provides a natural beauty from longer flat faces, significant insulation values, sustainability and usually includes a lifetime warranty.
  4. Vertical Siding – This siding comes in different profiles and dimensions to accommodate a wide variety of design styles.  Vertical siding has become more popular as an accent element or design feature.  This has been a great choice for entryways, low porch walls, gables and dormers because of the powerful effect of the pattern of vertical lines.
  5. Shakes and Shingles – This type of siding traces its history throughout American home styles.  Shakes and shingles offer an authentic appearance and eliminates the significant weakness of real wood products, like wood rot.  This siding gives you a true American look of wood without the lifetime maintenance and repair that comes with real wood products.

When selecting your siding style and color, there are some things to consider:

  • Ease of installation – if you’re installing this siding yourself, make sure it is within your skill set and requires no special tools.  Some siding can also create harmful dust when cut.  So, it is important you prepare for that.
  • Energy efficiency – Check the R-value rating for energy savings.  This will help you understand what will be needed as far as insulation under the cladding.
  • Aesthetics – Your new siding will be in full view every time you come and go.  Make sure it is what you want and looks beautiful to you.
  • Durability – When choosing siding, you want to ensure it will have the strength to stand up to every day wear and tear.  Depending on where you live, temperature shifts and severe weather can affect the durability of your siding.

A good contractor can help you choose the appropriate siding for your home style and geographic area.  To ensure your siding is installed correctly, your siding should be installed by a certified VSI (Vinyl Siding Institute) Installer.  VSI Certified Installers are trained in the proper techniques, which will ensure a quality installation on your home.