Monday, June 30, 2014

Sump Pump Challenge

Sometimes we run into things that need a bit of extra attention. And typically these challenges deal with things that can't go wrong, because if they do, they could cause a lot of headache.

Anthony and Abe ran into one such problem this spring.

Like most other homeowners in Wisconsin, these homeowners had a sump pump. But unlike most other homeowners, this sump pump ran non-stop, and in the winter there was always the risk of freezing.

We first added a battery back-up, because the only thing worse than worrying if your sump pump is going to keep up to the storm is knowing it won't because the power is out. Then we dealt with one of the reasons for the large amount of water: the existing pipes were dumping the water right back down the foundation wall.

The homeowners wanted the problem resolved, but they didn't want to see downspouts and they didn't want to worry about freezing.

Here was our solution.

We buried the pipe at the house, while still allowing water to escape in case of a spring freeze/thaw cycle. And then we went to work on the aesthetic considerations.

We avoided the downspout by burying the pipe and creating a rubber outlet at the edge of the existing landscaping. We screened the pipe to keep the critters out, and the rubber material makes the pipe mower and weed-eater resistant for even the most enthusiastic of mowing companies.

Do you need a creative solution for an ongoing problem? Give us a call...we might have the answer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fixing up the Nest

The birds are starting to move back to town, and they are gathering just about anything they can find to build their nests.

They don't seem to be very picky about color, or even material...not like us...

We know what we like, and we know what we don't like.

So why is it so hard to decide how to decorate our own nests?

Try this quiz, and please let us know if inspiration hits and you need a little help...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Q&A - Windows

Abe answers your questions:

What's the difference between a "replacement window" and a "new construction" window?

A New Construction window includes nailing fins used to fasten the window in place and to flash it, helping to make it airtight and waterproof. This usually requires installation of new interior woodwork, and sometimes touch-up painting of the interior drywall. It also can require removal of the siding around the window, or new wide trim installation, depending on circumstances.
A replacement window fits inside of the current window frame, leaving the original exterior & interior window frame & trim in place. This is a quicker and less expensive method of replacing windows. But it can also leave existing problems in place. IE, if there is air leakage between the existing window jamb and rough opening, a replacement window will not solve it. If there is rotted wood, the rotted wood often gets covered by aluminum cladding but is not necessarily removed/repaired.
There are some good companies who do a good job of replacement windows and I'm not putting down the good ones. There are also some really bad ones, who sell throw-away window products that are a good stop-gap measure. IE, replace 2 worst windows while you wait to replace the entire house full of windows and do new siding and energy improvements all at once.
For this reason, my company almost always installs New Construction windows and usually does so at the same time as a whole-house improvement with better insulation, air sealing, and new siding-soffit-fascia as well. It's the best practice if its what your home needs and you can afford to do it right. I suggest saving up to do it right, even if you need to live with a deteriorating product a little longer. It's better for your home in the long run, and better for our nation's housing stock as well!
The photos below show before, during, and after-- a new construction window, without installing new siding. 
Showing some rough-construction photos too of the type of damage that we often discover and fix. How we install peel-n-stick flashing to make a window replacement be "as-good" as a new home construction. If we're replacing the siding, we can literally do so. Without replacing siding, we're limited to the amount of surface we have exposed.