In the northern states of America’s Midwest, the range of seasons can make home maintenance more complicated than in states with more consistent weather. Hot summers, frigid winters, and everything in between can and will affect all aspects of a home, especially one that has vinyl siding. Thus, as snow has melted across the majority of our country, it’s time for Northern Detroit Michigan homeowners with vinyl siding to consider what maintenance needs to be done to prepare their home for the spring.
Transitioning Between the Seasons
Vinyl siding comes in a number of different styles, with various textures, shapes, and colors available on the market. But, while your siding may look completely different from other Michigan homes with the same material, the typical procedures necessary to take care of vinyl siding are relatively universal, and it’s important to make sure that your siding is carefully maintained regardless of its makeup. If you’re unsure what to do to take care of your vinyl siding during this transition between the seasons, the first step is to inspect your home for any damage. Remember, all personal inspections should be done from the ground (with a decent pair of binoculars if needed), and a professional should be called in for a more thorough inspection.
How to Maintain Your Vinyl Siding
While other materials require very specific cleaning procedures—regular repainting/staining or caulking for wood siding, periodic repainting and caulking for fiber cement, and mortar repointing for brick—vinyl siding is pretty easily maintained in comparison. One of the steps to take to ensure a long, healthy life for your vinyl siding is to wash it regularly. Unless it has suffered extensive damage, you can jump right into cleaning your siding as your first spring maintenance step. In the event of minor damage, you should repair/replace the degraded segments of your siding, keeping in mind that any cracks or holes can be opportunities for foreign agents (like bugs or animals) to make their way into your home.
Washing Your Vinyl Siding
Using a soft bristle brush or washcloth and a gentle solution, scrub from the bottom of the house, working your way up to the top without letting the solution dry before rinsing. If you have a power washer, it can also take care of stubborn dirt and stains. To properly use your power washer, hold it level at shoulder height, making sure not to aim upward lest the water push between the panels of siding. Be careful not to go against your manufacturer’s instructions; some siding companies advise against the use of pressure washers on their products, and others specify exactly which cleaning agents should be used on their vinyl siding. Areas to avoid when pressure washing your siding are cracks in the walls around doors, windows, and any electrical or plumbing areas.
What Type of Cleaners Can You Use?
When cleaning your Northern Detroit’s home vinyl siding, there are certain cleaners that are universally accepted. The cleaners you’ll want to use are any that are strong enough to clear away dirt, dust, bird droppings, and spider webbing without bleach or other abrasive chemicals that can damage the stain/seal of your vinyl siding. If you encounter stains made by oil, charcoal, or other stubborn substances, use of cleaners like Ajax or Soft Scrub may be necessary but proceed with caution, taking note of any distortions in the appearance of your siding (color, shine, or otherwise). If you’re not aware of which cleaner is recommended for your specific vinyl stains, be sure to perform a spot check before you apply them at large.
How to Protect Your Vinyl Siding
A few of the problems to look out for with vinyl siding are warping, discoloration, and chipping. Because vinyl siding is composed of materials that are subject to melting in extreme heat, it can warp in high temperatures or direct sunlight (yes, that does mean that a grill placed too close to the wall can cause a huge patch of the siding to melt). If your home has too much exposure to the sun, you may wind up with vinyl boards that pull away from your home, leaving cracks in between for bugs and small animals to breach or plant life to grow. Even temperatures that are not significant enough to cause warping may still result in discoloration of your siding. Anything that blocks the path of direct sunlight on your siding or rays reflected off of windows will help decrease the likelihood of this issue.
Another problem you can run into if your vinyl siding is painted is chipping. When you encounter chipping, you should also consult your manufacturer’s suggestions. Check whether or not repainting your siding would be grounds to void your warranty. If the manufacturer says that painting is okay, rather than just doing a patch job, you may be interested in repainting your whole home a new color. In this case, be sure not to pick a dark color, sure to absorb more heat than your home’s current color.
How to Know If Your Siding Needs Replacing
At the end of the day, while vinyl siding may have been a preferable choice for your home due to its durability (lasting between 10 and 20 years), all good things end. Here are a few red flags to look out for indicating it may be time for a total replacement of your vinyl siding:
- Warped/loose siding panels
- Evidence of mold, rotting, or extreme plant-growth
- Moisture build-up/paint cracking inside your home
- Increased heating or cooling bills
If you need to replace your siding, there are quite a few quality vinyl siding options available on the market today. And vinyl is not just a durable, aesthetically pleasing choice, but it is also one of the cheapest options to install. Speaking with a siding professional in Northern Detroit will help you decide which way to go based upon your personal preferences, budgetary restraints, climate needs, and other important factors.