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Siding, Roofing & Windows

Quality, Trust Experience since 1947

Call Us At : 763-316-4270

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Home Exterior Improvement Company

Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota

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Call Us At 763-316-4270

Help my home is flooded!

Basements and lower floors of your home are prone to flooding in the event of a violent storm. This is because water always travels from high to low ground and even if you don’t live in an area prone to floods, there is no guarantee that your home might not be caught in a flash flood triggered by a torrential downpour. This holds true even more so if you live in a hilly locality.

It may happen due to any number of reasons, ruptured drains, a burst mainline, heavy rainfall, or simply the slope or incline of your lawn.

However, in the case of a storm, if your asphalt roofing is not secure enough, your upper stories just might end up becoming a right royal mess to rival your basement. Such an eventuality occurs when the rain water seeps through the protective outer layers of your roof and eventually drips down to the living space beneath.

This may spell disaster for your personal living space as just about all the furniture, carpets and electronic gadgets might be ruined. Moreover, if the water stays long enough, it erodes the structural integrity of your home and may in extreme cases lead to its eventual collapse.

In case of extreme flooding, the first and foremost priority is safety. There is a risk of electrocution due to a short circuit especially if your electronic appliances are short circuiting due to the seepage of water from your roof. It is always advisable to turn off all power from the mains, but only if it can be safely done so.  Same goes for gas leaks because a broken gas pipe is even more dangerous than an electrical one. Both these utilities, taken together, create a safety hazard that should never be underestimated.  Other then that short circuiting appliances may also lead to fire and electrical fires are difficult to put out with conventional fire fighting equipment even if you have any such equipment at home.

Other hazards may include biological and chemical ones; if the sewerage system is breached then the water may be full of fecal matter giving rise to all kinds of gastrointestinal infections. Similarly, if harmful chemicals are stored in the upper stories, coming into contact with them may be dangerous to the eyes and skin.

This is why it is absolutely imperative to have roofing repairs conducted before the advent of the rainy season. The age old proverb “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely works out when it comes to roofing repairs.  Having new roofing installed after major storm damage might turn out to be a costly preposition. Especially, if the damage is so extensive that you might need to get your whole roofing replaced altogether.

However, once your property is secure, there are remedies that will help ensure that you are able to protect your home in case of any future calamity. Simply get an estimate from a roofing contractor that you know and trust to find out the roofing price of your repair work. Once you have a few quotations, don’t delay but commence work as soon as possible.


Asphalt Roofing

Asphalt roofing has been around since it was fist invented in the USA, back in 1901.  It is probably the most common type of roofing used in the North American continent. This is because not only is it cheap but also easy to install, while providing excellent all around water proofing abilities.

asphalt roofingBroadly defined there are two different types of asphalt shingles:

Organic

Organic asphalt shingles are constructed out of a very thick kind of special paper that has been covered with a coating of asphalt so that it becomes waterproof. As long as the coating is intact the water does not seep into the living space beneath the asphalt roof.

Fiberglass asphalt shingles

The main advantage of fiberglass asphalt shingles is that they offer far better overall fire protection then their organic counterparts whose paper construction is not conducive to fire retardation.  Just like their organic counterparts, fiberglass shingles are not waterproof on their own, till they are coated with a resinous substance that ensures water does not get through the shingles.

Asphalt shingles have a lot going for them and indeed offer many advantages over other types of roofing such as:

  1. Greater sound insulation
    Provided the asphalt roofing company has done its job properly and the roofing is uniform thought the structure, it would offer excellent noise reduction as opposed to many other types of roofing structures.
    The composition of asphalt roofing shingles in a complete roofing system offers markedly greater sound protection from external noise and effectively dampens the same.
  2. Installation
    If the asphalt shingle contractor  that you choose for the job knows his work well, then not only would he be able to install them easily and safely, but will also make sure that they will be able to give first-rate results in both insulation and water proofing capabilities for years to come.
  3. Versatility
    Asphalt shingles have the ability of being customized to just about every conceivable angle, form and shape that you may desire and provided the asphalt roof installation company knows what its doing you can easily have your own customized roof.
  4. Design variety
    There is a veritable kaleidoscope of richly diverse designs available when it comes to asphalt roofing
  5. Colors and shades
    Asphalt shingle contractors can easily produce absolutely stunning palates of vivid colors that will not lose their hues even after constant exposure to the elements for years on end.
  6. Curb Appeal
    Asphalt roofing, due to its rich coloring and customized appearance, significantly increased the ‘curb appeal’ of your property.
  7. Life span
    The newer generation of asphalt shingles can last for a very very long time indeed since they have been created with cutting edge technology that enhances their durability.
  8. Fire protection
    In case of a fire, your roof may be a means of egress. Thanks to the inherent fire retardant properties of non flammable material such as fiberglass asphalt shingles, your roof might not just save your property from being burnt but may well help your family escape grievous injuries.

Patio Doors

There was a time when large and elegant glass patio doors were available only as part of the ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’. But that was a long time back, while today, thanks to modern ‘state of the art’ manufacturing techniques, such doors can be installed relatively easily in almost all types of homes.

Pivot Doors

The ‘pivot door’ as the term applies, pivots back and forth on its pivots. In operation it is somewhat similar to a hinged door since it too, is capable of swinging in and/or out. But this is where the similarity ends, because the pivot door is based on the pivot mechanism enclosed in their own pivot boxes.  It is a pretty ingenious contraption really, because it allows the whole weight of the door to be focused all over the center of the door rather than its edges.  Thanks to its pivoting structure, the door can be built really big, even with a single pane of glass, since the stress of the structure is evenly distributed.

However, unlike its sliding and inward opening counterparts, it is difficult to be used in spaces where screening is necessary.

Sliding Patio Doors

Almost all sliding patio doors have two panels with one being stationary while the other traverses on rollers or tracks. The advantages of this set up are that there is no fear of doors that have not been secured and therefore such doors are not susceptible to banging and shattering and neither do they get in the way.  Since they have small frame to glass ratios, such doors are perfect if you want a panoramic view of the great outdoors.

Swinging Patio Doors

Unlike pivot doors, swinging patio doors function by virtue of the swing mechanism present in the hinges.   A typical ‘swing patio door’ consists of two panes that are suspended on hinges in the center of the pane, effectively allowing the door to swing backwards and forwards as and when required.

French Doors

The ubiquitous French door is generally engineered to swing inwards and as such occupies a lot of free space. On the positive side though, it’s the most elegant patio door design out there.   French doors usually have multiple square panes embedded in the main frame.  In size they range from 4.5 to 6 feet since overly large doors are not only bulky but also difficult to open and close.

Bi-Fold Patio Doors

This is a unique class of patio door, separate and distinct from all the other types available. A Bi-fold patio door operates like a musical accordion and its ‘manifold’ (pun intended) panes neatly fold away for full opening and closing without any worry about unnecessary occupation of space.  Such doors are perfect for cluttered spaces where furnishings and carpets do not allow easy operation of in-swinging doors.


New Windows

So you want to install a set of new windows for your home? There is a veritable plethora of different types, designs and categories to choose from. Once you have decided as to what kind of new window you want to install, you may then move on to the materials you will need for their construction. Some popular window types include

Different types of new windows

French windows

They generally open on a lawn and are part of a pair of windows. They open in the middle and extend all the way to the floor of your room.

Bay windows

These windows were popularized during the Victorian era in England and have retained their elegance to this day. They offer a panoramic view of the outside world and moreover are very beautiful. They consist of a central pane flanked by two different panes constructed at an angle to the main window.

Casement Windows

These windows are suitable for warm regions and are engineered in such a way that they help ensure a steady flow of air into the house and guide the breeze directly into the house in warm climates. They offer very good ventilation since they are hinged from the sides and once opened, catch the wind and direct it into the room much like the sails of a seaborne schooner.  These windows help ensure that the room is never stuffy.

Egress Windows

If you are looking to install new windows, then it is advisable that you consider ‘egress windows’ as part of your overall home improvement plans. Such windows may help save your life as well as the lives of your loved ones because they are essentially emergency exit windows and are used to exit a structure quickly and safely in case of fire, flooding or any other contingency that requires immediate egress from your property.

Picture window

A picture window is basically a window that is permanently affixed to its position and merely exists to provide a view of the outside environment. It is not capable of being opened or shut.

 

Construction materials

Once you have decided on the kind of new window you want to install in your home, you would have a large number of choices when it comes to construction materials.

Fiberglass

It is light, easy to install and relatively inexpensive. It is also both durable, as well as reliable since it can sustain the weight of even large panes with a smaller frame and as such allows more sunlight and air. It is UV radiation poof and imperious to the weather and humidity. It is also corrosion proof to boot.

Wood

It is by far the most traditional material used for constructing windows of any sort. Its core advantage lies in the fact that wooden window frames, irrespective of whether they have been  painted or polished, always tend to give a touch of class to any window as well as the wall in which it has been constructed.


Slider Windows

Slider windows are quite different from their more traditional counterparts, such as Awnings and Egress windows, in the sense that they don’t swing open ala Casement windows or open vertically either.  Rather they ‘slide’ horizontally and offer excellent lighting and ventilation options without the hassle of a swinging type window that would need to be repainted repeatedly due to its near constant exposure to the elements. Such windows offer many advantages over other types of windows

They are low on maintenance

Since they are not exposed to rust and corrosion and rotting if they were to open outwards they require somewhat less maintenance then other types of windows.  A slider (provided it’s installed correctly and its sliding points are well lubricated) may well work fine for many years.

Energy Efficient

Slider windows tend to be more energy efficient then other types due to their relatively straightforward mode of operation. Moreover, proper glazing as well as installation can help ensure that colder air does not seep in while ambient external noise is also kept at a bare minimum.

Exceptional ventilation

During warm weather, they offer excellent ventilation properties. This is because once both the sliders are opened, warm air (that rises) escapes through the upper part of the window while the more heavier colder air seeps in, thus keeping the room cool.

A more modern look

Sliders as opposed to the ubiquitous casement (and their slightly old fashioned traditional look) window gives a more modernistic look to your home.

Excellent view

Sliding windows are much larger than double-hung windows. Since the human eye is genetically pre-disposed to look at the world through a horizontal (side to side) world view as opposed to a vertical (down to up ) view, a slider window provides a more ‘natural’ look to any structure.

Ease of operation

The core purpose of any window is to allow light as well as fresh air into a room. If a window is difficult to open, it defeats the very purpose of its construction. This is an area where the humble ‘slider window’ truly shines, since one of its primary benefits is their overall ease of operation.  As long as the maintenance has been done regularly and it’s well lubricated, the odds are such a window would easily be pushed open with even a single hand. Therefore, if part of your window is in a place that has been covered by a cupboard or other furniture and it’s difficult to open. This problem can easily be solved by installing a slider window to make sure that fresh air and ambient light remain accessible in your home, day in day out.


Storm Damage Repair / Restoration Information for Minnesota Homeowners

What you need to know after a storm damages your home including how to work with Insurers, Adjusters, and Contractors to fix your home with the least headaches and hassles possible.

Minnesota Exteriors wants you to be aware of some basic ideas / tips when repairing or restoring your home after a storm or natural disaster.  You will need to work with your insurance company, their adjuster, and a qualified contractor to make these repairs a reality and get your life back too normal as soon as possible.  We have put these tips together from our 70 years in business along with some information from the Better Business Bureau and the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

What to do first –
Contact your insurance company

  • Call your insurance agent or insurance company and provide a description of your damage.  Once your loss is reported, an insurance company adjuster will contact you to inspect the damage.  It can be an advantage to a homeowner to have a qualified contractor at the adjustment inspection to help the adjuster find all damage to the home.
  • Take photos of the damaged areas. Pictures can be valuable if any questions arise during the claims process.  A qualified contractor can help with this part of the process.
  • Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage – cover broken windows, damaged roofs, etc. Keep track of supplies and materials you purchase.  Your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.
  • Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. An insurance company may deny a claim if you make permanent repairs before the damage is inspected.
  • Read your policy to determine what is covered and the level of coverage that exists. Most policies have deductibles that will apply.  Some deductibles are only a few hundred dollars and others are much larger and sometimes a percentage of the homes value.  Understand how much of the loss you will be responsible for in the repair / restoration process.
  • A typical policy will usually cover the replacement cost for the damaged portion of your home, including any upgrades that are required by local codes when damage is repaired.
  • Refrain from filing an insurance claim for repairs that you do not intend to make. There could be repercussions from your insurance company when you are being compensated to make certain repairs. Keep in mind that if you hold a mortgage on your home, your mortgage company may have a vested interest in you making the repairs and most mandate you to make the repairs.

What to do next –
Contact a contractor about repairs

After a storm event, there will be contractors seeking work, some licensed and reputable and some not.  You will have contractors knocking on your door and canvassing your neighborhood.  You will hear and see advertisements on the radio, television and in the newspapers plus direct mail.  How can you make an informed decision on whom to hire to restore your home?  Keep reading for some very important tips and information.

  • Remember to ask the contractor if he/she is licensed in Minnesota as a building contractor. Make sure the contractor license is in good standing and there are no enforcement actions against the contractor license. Contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry at 651.284.5065 or doli.state.mn.us for online license lookup.
  • Ask for proof of liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. A qualified contractor will not have a problem providing these items.
  • Get all proposals in writing, and be sure the contractor’s name, phone number, address, and license number is on the proposal. Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses.
  • Ask your contractor for references. Check with the Better Business Bureau at thefirstbbb.org to read a company’s reliability report.
  • Be aware that anything you sign is a contract. Read carefully or avoid signing an “estimate” or “authorization” form before you have actually decided to hire a particular contractor. Pay special attention to any details in bold, that are underlined or that you need to initial. Once you ‘sign for it’, in many cases ‘you bought it’.  Many of these estimates ‘legally’ bind you to work with the contractor that provided the estimate.
  • Some contractors specialize in storm damage repair. Ask your contractor to explain their process for working with insurance companies and to describe what you can expect to experience during the process. For example, the claim may need to change depending on whether or not additional damage is found during the restoration process.
  • Local or national companies may both do a fine job with your storm damage repair needs. If you choose to do business with someone who is not local, be sure to understand who will be taking care of any service needs that may arise after the completion of the project and the contractor has left town. A company from Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida or elsewhere is a LONG way away if you need service on the work down the road.
  • Some companies list bids on their contract to do service work on your home and some do not (basing their pricing on insurance allowance). Both are acceptable methods of conducting business.
  • Consumers may or may not be entitled to a re-inspection if their initial storm damage claim is denied. Factors taken into consideration may include the quality of the original report and the photos from the original inspection. You may want to ask a qualified contractor to assist in asking for a re-inspection.
  • Understand the differences between warranties and guarantees. The manufacturer warranties their products and contractors have warranties on service. Contractors may also offer customer service guarantees. Get copies of any/all warranties and guarantees.

The most important thing for a homeowner to do after a storm is to understand their insurance policy and not make hasty decisions about which contractor to hire to fix your home.  Unscrupulous contractors try and take advantage of a homeowner’s fear at this time.  As long as you make temporary repairs such as boarding broken windows you have time to chose and hire a competent contractor using the information above.

Minnesota Exteriors has been in business locally for 70 years and has worked with insurance companies on behalf of thousands of Minnesota homeowners.   To learn more about repairing your home after a storm or other catastrophic event you can call Minnesota Exteriors at 763-316-4270


Storm Windows: An Absolute Necessity

Storm windows are a type of window that may be affixed as an ‘add-on’ to the main windows of your home.  Their core purpose is to act as a sort of additional protection to already pre-installed windows so as to improve their heat retention capacity.  In winters, they may retain heat while in summers they are used to provide ventilation and prevent stuffiness without allowing ‘creepy crawlies’ ingress into your house.

Depending on homeowner preferences, they may be fixed either inside the house or outside to prevent the primary windows from being exposed to the environment.

The materials used to make these windows include:

  • Hard plastic
  • Flexible polymer sheets
  • Glass

Moreover, another advantage of storm windows is that they may be either permanent or temporary depending both on the usage of the homeowner as well as their aesthetic appeal. Many such windows are roughly analogous to highly insulated glazed windows. I.e. windows that have gas filled spaces sandwiched between multiple layers of glass to ensure greater heat dispersion in very cold weather.

Apart from their core function of heat retention, such storm windows also help protect both the home as well as primary windows during violent snow, hail and thunderstorms.

However, this is their secondary purpose. Their main raison d’être (reason of existence) is to provide an added layer of protection against extremely cold weather.  This is why such windows tend to be temporary structures that may be taken down during more balmy weather such as during the summer season.  As such, they are not even remotely popular in regions that offer a moderate or tropical climate.

However, well-built storm windows have the potential of decreasing thermal heat loss by as much as fifty percent in a single home, effectively making them a highly inexpensive solution to many heat related problems. Add to that the fact that their installation is markedly less costly than actual primary windows and the fact that they can be added and removed as and when desired makes them an increasingly appealing low cost alternative for many house owners.

Inexpertly installed windows with cheap and shoddy materials have a tendency to decrease the clarity of vision of the external environment due to lack of ease in cleaning as well as condensation related issues.

Moreover, a badly placed storm window can actually mar the aesthetic appeal of the structure on which it has been mounted. Therefore, before deciding to acquire such windows, it is imperative that skilled and experienced professionals be hired to do the job.


Say No to Sticky Windows

A door or window (be it a living room window or a front door) that sticks is seldom, if ever equated with any structural weaknesses in the foundations. In fact, few people even pay any attention to it due to the fact that such issues tend to go away of their own accord. Nevertheless, sometimes it is important to take care of such issues irrespective of how minor they may seem.

How to figure out if there is a sticky window in your home?

  • Openings (both windows as well as doors) pop out of their frames
  • A lot of strength is needed to open or shut them
  • Windows are warped and it’s not easily opened or closed
  • Cracks form at or near the frames

A door or window that suddenly refuses to open and shut properly could create problems for any house owner since it often is a symptom of more complex issues involving the foundation of the structure. There are a few guidelines to figure out if it is just wood warping due to a change in weather or an actual structural issue. In either case, it is always better to install new windows in your home to make sure that not only does the window look aesthetically appealing but also remains functional as well.

As a matter of fact, more homeowners should pay attention to sticking windows because they may well be a sign of foundation problems. It is advisable to observe the area around the cracks closely, check, and see if there are any big ones surrounded by large cracks.

Whether inside or outside the house, if those cracks are there, the odds are more than even, that the structure itself is at fault.

However, wafer thing hairline cracks may simply mean ‘shrinking concrete’; an inevitable part of construction, as concrete grows old over a period of years. Another non-structural reason for sticky windows may be rain or snowfall as water is known to cause wood to bloat and render it out of alignment. In either case, it would be better to simply install new windows.

However, large cracks both inside and outside the structure, coupled with dislocated slabs of masonry around windows that refuse to close properly may mean foundation trouble. The integrity of your home is inherently based on its foundation; if the foundation fails, the house itself just might collapse thereby putting the lives and safety of its inmates at risk.

Should there be any tell tale signs of large scale structural and foundation damage, it is highly advisable to not wait but call in the professionals who would either install new windows or advise you regarding the foundation and structural integrity of your dream home.


Energy Efficient Windows

There are many different types of energy efficient windows that not only help cut down our energy bills but also help save our environment. If you want to minimize the cost of either cooling down your home or alternately heating it up, selecting the right type of energy saving window as well as its construction materials is a very important step indeed. There is a veritable plethora of materials out there that can be utilized to make an optimal set of energy efficient windows. However, there are four key components for the creation of the perfect window. They are:

  • Glass
  • Designing
  • Frame
  • Installation

Glass

The best insulators are double paned glass or even better triple paned glass with Argon or Krypton gas filled in between the various layers. The gases help trap any residual heat in the room where they are located and ensure that you don’t need to turn the thermostat all the way up, even in mid winter. Moreover, they also help protect from UV (Ultra Violet) radiation from the sun during summer and that ensures not only the safety of your family but also helps prevent carpets and upholstery from fading over the period of time. Moreover, softly tinted glasses can make the room feel all warm and cozy while one way mirror glass also helps increase privacy.

Designing

There are many efficient designs with some being more popular than others. Some of them include:

Casement Windows

These windows are hinged at the sides and offer excellent overall energy efficiency. In summers, they may be opened to catch a stray breeze while in winters they may be closed so as to allow sunlight while keeping the shivery winter winds at bay.

Storm Windows

Storm windows are generally mounted outside the main windows and they may be either permanent or temporary structures. Not only do they help protect against harsh weather but are also excellent insulators against both noise pollution as well as trapping and retaining the residual heat inside the home.

Picture Windows

These windows are permanently closed and are framed like pictures on a wall. They can only allow sunlight while effectively blocking the cold weather outside.

Frames

There are many materials with which energy efficient windows are constructed, each with their own sets of pros and cons. Some of the more common ones include:

Aluminum

While not being the most energy efficient material around, it does have the advantage of not rusting at all when exposed to the environment and at the same time, it is relatively inexpensive

Fiberglass

Fiber glass frames are more expensive than their aluminum counterparts, but are light and tough at the same time

Wood

While, it is certainly true that wood retains the most heat, but it is not only just expensive but also has a tendency to warp over time under extreme temperatures.

Installation

This is the part where top-notch professionals come in. If the windows are not properly installed then the chances are they would be prone to drafts and leakages and as such would drain heat more quickly than even conventional windows. It is important that they be waterproofed beforehand while all caulking is done both thoroughly as well as methodically.


Egress Windows: An All Important Emergency Exit

The laws of physics being what they are, many basements equipped with badly built egress windows  are prone to flooding,  This is because water always travels from high to low ground. Therefore, even if one does not live in a flood prone area, it is still possible to have a flooded house, especially for constructions in hilly areas.

It may happen due to any number of reasons-ruptured drains, a burst mainline, heavy rainfall, or simply the slope or incline of the front (or back) garden.

But perhaps worst of all are houses that are suddenly flooded without any conceivable reason. Such an eventuality occurs when the water table rises in the area immediately around your house. Basically, the water table is the level of water available in the sub soil. If, for any reason it raises it may well lead to flooding since basements by their very nature, are fundamentally holes dug into the ground.

Such an eventuality might prove worrisome because if the water stays long enough, it erodes the structural integrity of the house and may in extreme cases lead to it collapsing on itself.

In case of extreme flooding, the first and foremost priority is safety and this is where a well constructed egress windows may come in handy. The priority is to get your family out of the flooded house as soon as possible, due to multiple hazards such as gas fires, crumbling structures or even electrocution. It is always advisable to turn off all power from the mains if it can be safely done so. The same goes for gas leaks as well, because ruptured gas mains may well prove to be even more hazardous because of their propensity to create sudden explosions and veritable firestorms.

Other hazards may include biological and chemical ones; if the sewerage system has been compromised then the water may contain hazardous bio waste giving rise to all kinds of stomach ailments. Similarly, if harmful chemicals are stored in the basement, coming into contact with them may be dangerous.

However, once it has been made sure that the house is safe, there are remedies that will help ensure that you are able to protect your loved ones.

Apart from strategically placed egress windows, it is necessary to ensure that your house has been dried out. A good, long lasting sealant would help along with a sump pump to ensure that even if water gets in, it does not stay long. You may also install a standpipe that will help drain away the water even before it starts to flood.

However, it is imperative that you understand the urgency of the situation if and when your house is flooded already. Send for the professionals immediately to make sure it does not happen again while also making sure that all your egress windows are in perfect working condition.