Redefining Restoration

Tips & Tricks for Cleaning Gutters

It’s one of our least favorite homeowner chores, but cleaning gutters doesn’t have to be a burden. The residential roofing pros at Van Rooy Restoration in Indianapolis share some expert tips, tricks, and tools to get the job done right and with ease.

Tips and Tricks for Home Gutter Maintenance

Keeping Gutters Clean & Debris-Free

No matter how your gutters are designed or what they are made of, they won’t work properly if they are dirty. Leaves, pine needles, and sticks are a few of the things we commonly find clogging gutters. Clogs can damage gutters and cause water leaks and other problems in your home. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools you can use to keep your gutters clean.

1. Ladder. This time-tested piece of equipment is often your first line of defense against gutter debris. However, it comes with some very obvious safety risks. Always follow all instructions when using ladders. You don’t want to turn an afternoon chore into an overnight hospital stay.
2. Vacuums and cleaners. No ladder? No problem, when you have one of these specialty devices at home. Both use extendable hoses and curved accessories hooked up to your shop-vac or leaf blower to reach over and into gutters to suck up or blast away debris.
3. Gutter guards. Designed for long-term low maintenance, these tools cover your gutters to let rainwater in and keep most debris out. They are the ideal solution for folks who don’t want to or can’t clean their gutters regularly. However, it’s worth noting that no guard is perfect, and you will still need to access your gutters from time to time and flush them out with a garden hose.

Maintaining Your Gutters

Keeping gutters cleaned is just one part of your maintenance duties as a homeowner. Sagging, leaking gutters can spell disaster for your home. Do this if you have:

Loose gutters. Replace older gutter spikes with gutter screws. Screws are much sturdier than spikes and provide better support and protection for your gutters.
Leaking gutters. Notice drips between gutter seams when it’s raining or snowing outside? They’ve sprung a leak. Make a mental note, or choose a dry day to run hose water to identify the leaky joints. Clean and dry any problem areas, and apply beads of silicone caulk to seal them up.
Damaged downspouts. Downspouts play a critical role in diverting water away from your home. Make sure downspouts are free of debris, and regularly inspect joints to make sure they fit together tightly. Use splash blocks, extension hoses, and/or irrigation pipes to help “aim” water runoff in the proper direction.

Time to Replace Your Gutters? With What?

Have your home’s gutters reached the end of the line? When it’s time to replace your gutters, there are several options today. Gutters come in a variety of styles, materials, colors, and prices.

The standard gutter width is five or six inches, and the most common designs are flat-bottomed (“K-style”) and tubular-bottomed (“half-round”).

Vinyl gutters are one of the most popular, because they are lightweight and inexpensive. Vinyl gutters are also easy to install for the average DIYer. One of the biggest downsides of vinyl gutters is their relative fragility – you can’t lean ladders against them, they tend to fade in sunlight, and can even crack in extreme cold.

Homeowners looking for more durability often choose aluminum or steel gutters. Both materials offer their own advantages – aluminum won’t rust and steel is exceptionally strong – but both options are more expensive.

An additional option is seamless gutters. These are growing in popularity and are found on many newer homes for a number of reasons. The gutters are expertly built and installed on-site, meaning there is no need to transport long sections of material. Seamless gutters are custom-fitted to your house, and because they don’t have seams, they are less susceptible to leaks. All these benefits do come at a cost, however, and installation can be several times more expensive than the cheapest DIY options.

Whether you do it yourself or hire a pro, the most important aspect of clean gutters is actually keeping them clean! To avoid bigger homeowner headaches down the road, make a seasonal gutter cleaning schedule now and stick to it. Also, did you know that your roof plays a big role in the health and performance of your gutters? An aging or poorly maintained roof can lead to problems with your gutters and other parts of your home. If you live in the Indianapolis area, contact the experts at Van Rooy Restoration for no-hassle roofing restoration and repair services. Take care of your gutters now to prevent problems later.

Easy DIY Projects to Get Your Home Ready For the Holidays

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time again to tackle those necessary autumn home improvement tasks. These seasonal preemptive DIY projects are important not only for curb appeal and your incoming guests; they can also help you find issues around your home before they turn into bigger problems.

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Clean Your Driveway and Sidewalk

Before your guests arrive, give them something safe to walk on as they enter your home. Start by moving your vehicles and any other items from your driveway and sidewalk. Rake or blow away leaves and other debris (remember to keep that stuff out of the storm drain!). Hose down the concrete and go at it with a hard-bristled broom or scrub brush. If you want an even deeper clean, use a concrete cleaner. These are often sold as concentrated solutions, so you’ll want to dilute with water and apply with a tank sprayer. Cover the area with cleaner, scrub again, and rinse off with the hose. Your driveway and sidewalk will look as good as the day they were poured.

Check for Indoor Leaks by Going Outside

Besides more stress, houseguests mean more showers, more sinks running, and more toilets flushing. Make sure your home’s plumbing system is prepared for the increased water demand. Before you gear up to check every faucet, fixture, and inch of line, wait! There’s an easier way to find water leaks. Do this instead:

  1. Turn off all water-using devices inside and outside your home.

  2. Locate your water meter. It’s typically in your front yard near the sidewalk, a few feet from the road.

  3. Remove the meter cover. Be careful, as all sorts of critters call meter boxes home. The lid is also heavy.

  4. Identify the flow indicator. It is usually a small red triangle or silver wheel on the meter.

  5. If the flow indicator is spinning at all, and you’re sure no water is on in or outside your home, chances are you have a leak.

Although some leaks, like a running toilet or dripping faucet, are easy to spot, many more leaks are hidden and hard to diagnose. Call a licensed plumber for help.

Frying a Turkey? Plan Ahead!

Fried turkey is one of our absolute favorites. The only problem … it’s also incredibly dangerous to make. It is estimated that thousands of house fires, tens of millions of dollars in property damage, and many injuries and even deaths occur each year due to turkey fryer accidents. Some simple tips will help keep you, your family, and your home safe.

When frying a turkey, it’s important to stay a safe distance from your house. Set up your fryer on a level, non-flammable surface (like your freshly-cleaned driveway). No decks! Use only fully thawed, dry turkey – NEVER put a frozen bird in the hot oil. Constantly monitor the oil temperature, and always remember to use oven mitts and other protective items when handling the pot and lid. And remember … accidents can happen even to the most careful person, so be prepared. Have a dry-powder fire extinguisher ready at all times. We don’t have to remind you that water and boiling oil don’t mix, right?

Need to spruce up the exterior of your Indianapolis area house, or have another project you need to finish before your holiday guests arrive? Give the home improvement and restoration pros at Van Rooy a call today! While we can’t help you deal with your in-laws, we can make sure your property is a safe and comfortable place to call home.

Happy holidays from your friends at Van Rooy Restoration.

Easy Ways to Prep Your Home for Winter

We’ll spare you the old “Game of Thrones” saying that always gets thrown around this time of year, but yeah … it’s going to be cold here soon.

Get ahead of Old Man Winter before he arrives, and make sure your home is prepared. Here are four handy home improvement projects to add to your honey-do list while it’s still autumn.

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1) Seal It Up

Drafty doors and windows let good air out, and bad air in. In the winter, this means a HVAC system that’s working harder (and wearing out faster) to keep your home warm, while your energy bills climb higher. Thankfully, there’s an effective solution you can do yourself, and it only costs a few bucks. We’re talking about weatherstripping.

Look for drafts and air leaks around exterior doors and windows – especially older frames and single panes. Add weatherstripping where necessary for a quick and easy energy-efficient winter prep. We are happy to help if you have questions about remodeling and construction services.

2) Pack It In

Does your home tend to get chilly again pretty quickly, even if you’ve been running the heat all day? If so, you might have an insulation problem. Find out what kind of insulation you already have installed, and research which types are best for your home.

If you don’t want to fuss with removing all that old insulation first, know that in many cases you can add new insulation over the existing stuff. Just plan ahead and make sure you know what you’re doing.

3) Review Your Roof

With winter comes the potential for major damage from things like heavy snow, ice dams, and more. That’s why fall is an optimal time of year to inspect your roof. Once you’re up there, you’ll want to look for things like sags, stains, and loose or missing shingles. Make sure your gutters look good and aren’t clogged with leaves and other debris.

And, it may go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway … always remember safety when climbing up on the roof. Keep your ladder away from electrical lines, wear proper shoes and gear, and a tool belt is very helpful if you need to make any minor fixes while up there. Let us know if you have any questions about professional roof repairs for your Indiana home.

4) Check the Chimney

Another thing to think about when on your roof, is your chimney. Even if you don’t use your fireplace that much or at all in the winter, an annual inspection is still important. Check mortar joints and bricks for cracks and other signs of fatigue. Make sure the cap is secured and there are no branches or animal nests clogging it. Back on solid ground, look into the chimney for signs of creosote buildup.

Creosote is a combustible material that builds up inside chimneys when wood is burned. It poses a dangerous fire hazard if left untreated. A chimney sweep is a worthwhile investment if you regularly use your home’s fireplace.

Winter’s a beautiful time in Indiana, as long as you’re prepared. Talk to the friendly experts at Van Rooy Restoration in Indianapolis for more tips on getting your home ready right now.

How to Close Up Your Vacation Home After Summer

Another summer is headed to your scrapbook and Facebook page. We hope you had a fantastic season, and are looking forward to fall as much as we are. Before autumn arrives though, there’s always that one final task for those of you lucky enough to have a home away from home – closing it.

This year, make sure you shut her down the proper way. Here are some important tips to secure your vacation home for the season.

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End-of-Season Checklist

Lake cottages here in the upper Midwest can get mighty cold in winter. Likewise, condos along the coast face major storm risks well into the fall. Plan far ahead and think of everything when closing your vacation home. Give yourself at least a full, uninterrupted day to check off all the necessary tasks. Ask yourself the following question, “did I remember to:”

  • Turn off the water and other utilities?
  • Turn on my security system?
  • Flip non-essential circuit breakers, and unplug electrical devices?
  • Shut off the gas?
  • Lock and secure all windows, doors, and storm shutters?
  • Flush toilets, empty ice trays, and drain water lines?
  • Get rid of all perishable foods and take out the trash?
  • Set the thermostat, humidistat or dehumidifier, etc.?
  • Set pest traps and hang flypaper?
  • Stop/forward the mail?
  • Check those windows and doors one more time?

As much as we hate to say it, the bad guys know as well as you do when it’s time to go home, home for the season. Security doors, deadbolts, motion-sensing lights, cameras, and monitored security alarms – as well as trustworthy neighbors – are all wise investments to help safeguard your vacation home, and all the stuff in it, while you’re away.

Hire a “House-Sitter”

Depending on the distance between your primary place of residence and your vacation home, it might not be possible to get back out there on a regular basis to check on things as needed. Professional property managers are one option, especially if you rent out your vacation home. But, they are expensive. Another option is to hire a handyman or housekeeper to perform regular maintenance and cleaning services throughout the off-season months. Be sure to do your homework before hiring an expert though, since they will have full non-supervised access to your property. An additional option? Get to know and befriend your neighbors at your vacation destination. Some of them are likely year-rounders, and can contact you if something happens while you’re gone.

If something does happen, you already have a trusted friend in Van Rooy Restoration. Whether it’s man-made or a natural disaster, we’re experts in fire, smoke, and water restoration services, storm damage repair, roofing, and remodeling and construction. We specialize in residential, commercial, and multi-family properties, and can even handle much of the insurance work for you. We’re based right here in Indiana, but we can and do travel out of the state to assist our customers. If something bad should happen to your vacation home, Van Rooy can restore your property to better than before-disaster. Contact us today to learn more.

Here’s to another great summer behind us. Now, go enjoy your autumn, too!