Crucial Tips for preparing your home for cold winter months

Insulate Windows                                 

Winter drafts can drive up your energy bill — and detract from the cozy vibe you want inside your home when it’s cold outside — if your windows have any air leaks. But by reducing drafts you can lower your home’s energy costs by up to 20% per year, according to the U.S. Energy Department, while also making your living space more comfortable.

Here are five simple solutions that will allow you to insulate your windows quickly:

V-seal weather stripping. Add this plastic weather stripping along the sides of the sashes. Windows can open and shut evenly with the V-seal in place. (Pro tip: Weather stripping also works wonders on doors.)

Rope caulk. This soft, sticky stuff can be molded to fill the gap — and the caulk removes easily at the end of the cold season.
Shrink film. Applied with double-sided tape, this clear plastic sheeting shrinks drum-tight when heated with a hair dryer. The film seals off drafts and captures an insulating buffer of air. Use rubbing alcohol to help release the tape in the spring to avoid stripping off any paint.

Nail polish. If carefully applied, clear polish fills the crack almost invisibly. Once hardened, it will stabilize the glass until you can replace it in the spring.

Draft snake. If the bottom of your window is letting in cold air, buy a foam-and-fabric draft snake kit. Cut the 36-inch foam tube provided to length and slip the washable cover over it. Then place the snake on the sill, and shut the window on to seal the deal.

Trim Tree Branches

The last thing you need is a winter storm loosing the wrath of that mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Not to mention, overhanding limbs can cause excess water to seep into cracks in your home’s roof or siding, which is why you want to make sure any tree limbs or branches surrounding your home are at least 3 feet away from the house.

Inspect Your Fireplace

A visual inspection, both inside and outside your home, can ensure that your wood-burning fireplace is in good shape (read: safe) for the burning season.

During an outdoor inspection, make sure:

  • A chimney cap is present and in good condition.
  • There is no bird nest or debris buildup on the cap.
  • There are no tree limbs above or near the chimney.
  • The mortar and bricks on the chimney aren’t crumbling or missing.
  • The chimney rises at least 2 feet above where it exits the roof.
  • The chimney crown — the sloping cement shoulders at the top of the chimney — is beveled, which helps air flow.
  • The flue liner is visible above the chimney crown.
  • The chimney is plumb and not leaning to one side or the other.·
  • The roof flashing is tight against the chimney.

Inside your home, confirm that:

  • The flue damper opens, closes, and seals properly.
  • There are no combustible materials, such as animal nests, or other foreign objects in the flue.
  • The fireplace surround, hearth, and firebox have no cracked bricks or missing mortar.

If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection.

Gas fireplaces require less maintenance, but you should still:

  • Inspect the glass doors for cracks or latch issues.
  • Check that the gas logs are in the proper position.
  • Turn gas off at the shut-off valve and test the igniter.
  • Ignite the fire and look for clogged burner holes. If present, turn off gas and clear obstructions with a pin or needle.

Check the Roof

You certainly don’t want to find out you have a leaky roof after the first snow hits. A roof inspection can help you spot any potential issues.

Squeamish about heights? Don’t worry — you can call Lathrop Contracting to do a full roof inspection.

Work your way around your house, looking for these defects:

  • Cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing.
  • Shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering.
  • Missing or broken shingles.
  • Cracked and worn rubber boots around vent pipes.
  • Masses of moss and lichen, which could signal the roof is decaying underneath. Black algae stains are just cosmetic.

Some roofing fixes are easy to do yourself, such as repairing shingles or calking flashing, if you’re comfortable working on a roof. If you’re not, you’ll want to consult a specialized roof inspector. Be prepared to pay between $119 and $296 for a standard roof inspection.

Clear Out Gutters and Downspouts

Clogged rain gutters or downspouts can damage your home’s foundation or cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. So, after the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Also, make sure the gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water, tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets, and replace any worn or damaged materials.



Why You Should Choose an Asphalt Shingle Roof over a Metal Roof

So, the time has come for you to consider your roofing options. Whether you are building your dream home or you are replacing the roof on your current home, choosing what kind of roof you want to be able to protect your home with is an important decision.

As you do your research, you will see that when it comes to roofing material choices there are two primary options: asphalt shingles or metal roofing. Asphalt shingles, made from fibrous materials, are installed by staggering strips on top of each other. Meanwhile, metal roofs, which can be made of copper, aluminum, steel, or zinc, are installed in larger sections secured side-by-side.

While both styles of roof have their merits, when it comes to the roof that is going to make the most protective and financial sense for you, your family, and your home, there is a very good reason asphalt shingles are the most common roofing choice for homeowners. 

Here are some of the major advantages asphalt shingle roofs have over metal roofs.

An asphalt shingle roof is cheaper to install

One of the biggest advantages asphalt shingle roofs have over metal roofing is that the installation is a significantly smaller up front investment. While your choice of materials and supplier may vary the cost, generally the cost of installing a metal roof can run between $120 to $900 per 100 square feet. Meanwhile, asphalt shingles will likely come in closer to $100 to $200 per 100 square feet. One of the main reasons for the discrepancy is that installing a metal roof is a much more specialized job and requires a more demanding skill set (which will naturally demand higher compensation for it).

An asphalt shingle roof is easier to repair

Asphalt roofs won’t only be easier to handle financially up front, but over time necessary repairs to asphalt shingles will cost less than metal roofing. Again, this reasoning comes down to the ease of performing repairs. If an asphalt roof needs a few shingles replaced, it is easy enough to do so without tearing up your whole roof and reinstalling from scratch. While metal roofing has solid durability, any significant damage likely won’t be able to be resolved with a simple patch job or replacing a section. Damage to a metal roof typically leads to a much bigger job in order to repair it.

Recycling the shingles can help your community

Once your asphalt roof has run its course and is ready to be replaced, the shingles can be recycled and repurposed to materials and causes that can attribute improvements within your community. Asphalt shingles can be repurposed into materials that help pave streets and sidewalks and, of course, also getting them to a recycling facility also helps keep them out of landfills or otherwise going to waste.

Keeping you warm all winter long 

Residential asphalt shingle roofs are extremely adept at retaining heat, which makes them the superior roofing choice for a place like Indiana that has its fair share of chilly months (not to mention the brutal cold of January and February)! This strength in retaining heat can mean your heating bills during the winter months will be much more under control and your family will be able to stay nice and warm.

When it comes time to replace your roof, because of its strength and affordability, we strongly recommend going with asphalt shingles as your roof of choice. And of course, when it is time for a new roof, it is time to call Lathrop Contracting!

Lathrop Contracting is a licensed and insured Indianapolis general contractor specializing in roofing, gutters, and siding. We are certified installers for all name-brand manufacturers including the popular Certainteed brand. For a free estimate, or call us today at (317) 783-6929 or schedule an appointment online today!

Hailstorm Damage Checklist

Hailstorm damage is part of spring in Indianapolis.  As a homeowner, the morning after a severe hailstorm there is probably a lot going through your mind. What got dinged up? How bad did it get damaged? What should I do next? Because of the seriousness and potentially devastating qualities of a hailstorm, these are important questions to ask and, most importantly, to get answered.

What makes hailstorms so dangerous is both the immediate and future repercussions they bring about. The sheer speed and force at which hail falls, coupled with the strong winds that usually accompany them, can cause serious harm to your roof by damaging or knocking off shingles from your home. 

That is just the immediate impact. If the hailstorm damage isn’t taken care of in a timely fashion, future hail, thunder, rain, or wind storms can be magnified because of the damaged integrity of your roof due to missing or damaged shingles. Even more shingles can be damaged or removed, or even worse the previously exposed areas become at extreme risk of damage to your actual roof or creating leaks into your attic.

This is why following a hailstorm it is important to make a proper assessment of any damage to your home so you can reach out to the right people and act quickly. Here is our checklist of essential tasks to do and what damage to keep on the lookout for following any hailstorm.

Check around your home

The first thing you should do is to have a look around your home to see if you can identify any damage caused by hail. This is a good place to start because oftentimes the condition of your yard and surrounding area can be a good indication of the condition of your home. For instance, if your car was parked outside make this the first place you look. If there is any hail damage to your car, chances are pretty high you will be facing damage elsewhere to your roof or other exteriors.

Other hail damage indicators to keep an eye out for are fallen tree branches or twigs, shredded plants or flowers, dings or dents in your mailbox, and chips or scratches to any porch or wooden patio your home has. All of these are signs that the hail fell with a significant enough impact to potentially do similar damage to your home. Also, if at this time you notice any loose shingles scattered around your yard with all the twigs and branches, you can safely know at this point your roof has been damaged.

Check your siding, gutters, and windows

After you have evaluated the condition of your yard, before you pull out your ladder and consider heading up to the roof, start by a safer evaluation of your home by looking at other areas that may have been harmed by hail, mainly your siding, gutters, and windows. Damages to these areas may be subtle, but just like hail damage to your roof they can be serious problems if not addressed. They are also a good indication of what you may find once your roof is eventually inspected.

Hail impacting your siding can result in minor dents, cracks, or some paint chipping if you have fiber cement board siding. Similarly, look for dents in your gutters as well as any drooping caused by them becoming dislodged by the repeated impact. Window damage is probably the least subtle of the three in determining the extent of damage, and if your windows got damaged during the storm, you probably already know about it! However, check any exterior windows for any cracks.

Carefully check your roof for hailstorm damage

Now that you have had a chance to survey the scene around your home, it’s time for the moment of truth and evaluating the hail damage done to your roof. While we recommend having your roof inspected by an expert, if you choose to go up on your roof at any point it is important that you exercise the utmost caution and care when doing so to avoid injuring yourself. 

There are a handful of hail damage signs to keep an eye out for once your roof is being inspected. Damaged shingles can be identified by darkened areas that have been dented, splitting or cracks along these areas, an excessive amount of give when you push on a damaged area, as well as any areas where shingles are missing and the roof itself has become exposed. 

Call in help

Damage of all kinds to your roof is important to take care of. However, when it comes to roofing damage there is a difference between “cosmetic damage” and “functional damage”. As you may imagine, cosmetic damage doesn’t look pretty, but it may not actually be a threat to the condition of your roof. Functional damage isn’t just ungly, it is dangerous too. 

It isn’t always easy for someone without a background knowledge in roofing to know the difference between the two or how to identify exactly what the extent of your roofing damage is. Whether you don’t want to or can’t get on the roof yourself to inspect the damages, you aren’t sure how bad the damages are, or you don’t know what to do next, call Lathrop Contracting.

Lathrop Contracting specializes in storm damage repair for roofing, gutters, siding, and windows. Our evaluation can determine the extent of damage to your home and recommend the best solution, whether it is taking care of some minor repairs or a complete replacement. If you think your insurance should cover some of the cost of repair, we are also more than happy to work with your insurance company to provide the information you need to get your claim approved. Call (317) 783-6929 today.

[sc_fs_faq sc_id=”fs_faqq8tqynamb” html=”true” headline=”h2″ img=”” question=”What should I do after a hailstorm?” img_alt=”” css_class=”” ]After a hailstorm it is important to evaluate damage to your house and property by looking at you roof, gutters, siding, and windows before calling a roofing repair contractor.[/sc_fs_faq]

beautiful house ready for spring maintenance

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

beautiful house ready for spring maintenanceDuring the winter, the cold and weather can make it difficult to stay on top of home maintenance, no matter how important it may be. But with warm weather on the way, it is now the perfect time to get back outside and start taking care of neglected and important home maintenance.

Take advantage of the spring warm-up to go through our spring home maintenance checklist of important services or repairs that every homeowner should take care of to help get your home ready for the new season.

Check Your Sump Pump

The rains of spring can often mean a wet basement for those whose sump pumps aren’t up to snuff. Your sump pump helps collect excess water from rainfall and pushes it towards the nearest sewer or retention pond instead of pooling in your basement.

It’s likely your sump pump hasn’t seen a lot of action in the past few months, so make sure to give it a check now to make sure it is working before you find yourself up to your knees in water. Take a bucket of water and pour it down your sump pit. Once it fills to a certain point, if your sump pump is working properly it should kick on and start draining. If not, time to call your plumber.

Clean & Fix Your Gutters

Speaking of spring rain, you also should take the time now to make sure your gutters aren’t just clean and clear, but also in working order. As rain rolls off your roof, it goes straight to your gutter, down your downspout, and away from your home. If your gutters are heavily clogged or your gutters are damaged, leaking, or not properly attached, water can spill out and pool around your home.

Not only can this be damaging to your landscape if your drainage isn’t great, but as water seeps into the ground it can also contribute to basement flooding. So be sure you take the time to get out the ladder and clean out all the sticks and leaves that have made their way into your gutters. If your gutters are damaged or leaking, get a professional out to repair them as soon as possible.

Inspect Your Roof

The winter has probably left your roof in a bit of rough shape. Hail storms are one of the biggest causes of roofing damage during the winter and can knock off, dent, or crack shingles and will leave your roof more vulnerable to water damage or shingles or roof being damaged further by falling branches or heavy winds later on in the year.

Of course, it is hard to tell the exact condition of your roof from the ground and getting up on the roof yourself can be somewhat treacherous. Early spring is the perfect time to call a contractor to come out and inspect your roof. A professional and experienced roofing contractor like Lathrop can identify even the most subtle roofing damage and tell you exactly what needs to be done to make sure your roof is as secure as can be.

Service Your Air Conditioning

Your furnace has been getting plenty of use over the past few months, but pretty soon the temperatures are going to start rising and you’ll want to be cranking up the air conditioning to help keep you cool. Take the time now to make sure your air conditioning is in working order and you don’t have a nasty surprise when you turn on your AC for the first time.

There are some things you can even do yourself like changing the filters, cleaning dust, and making sure drain pans are draining correctly. But springtime is also a great time to invest in an annual HVAC inspection. Regular inspections will make sure both your air conditioning and your furnace won’t let you down when you need their services the most.

Care For Woodwork

The seasons can wear on your fence, deck, trellises, and other exterior woodworking around your home. Without proper care, their lifespan can be greatly impacted and leave you with splintered, stained, and beat up woodwork.

Spring is the perfect time to give your home’s woodwork a little bit of love in the form of any necessary repairs, resealing, or repainting them. This both gives your outdoor a little extra visual life as well as helping to better protect them from the elements and give them a longer physical life.

Need some help getting your roof and gutter maintenance completed? Indianapolis homeowners have relied on Lathrop Contracting as roofing, gutter, siding, chimney, and window repair and installation experts for years.

Call (317) 783-6929 or schedule an inspection online today!

gutters filling with heavy rain from rain storm

Preparing Your Home for Storm Season

gutters filling with heavy rain from rain stormThe harsh conditions of winter are nearly in the rearview mirror, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. Spring and summer are storm season here in Indiana. Before too long we will be trading in snow and ice storms for heavy winds, rain, and tornadoes (though hopefully not too many).

Wind, rain, and tornadoes can cause some serious damage to your home and put you and your family in danger if you aren’t prepared for what’s to come. Take the time to prepare now, well before storm season hits, to make sure you and your home are ready.

But where should you start when preparing your home for storm season? This quick checklist has four extremely important items that are crucial to check off if you want to have your home as storm-ready as possible.

Get your gutters ready

When you are hit with the first big storm or torrential downpour of the year, you’ll want to make sure your gutters are ready to go. Check to ensure your gutters are clean and clear of any sticks, leaves, debris, and anything else so that rainwater can flow unimpeded through your gutters, down your downspout, and away from your home, where it is less likely to seep in and flood your basement. While you are up there, be sure to check on the gutters themselves. If they are loose or damaged, you’ll want to get your gutters repaired right away to make sure they don’t come off.

Secure shingles and siding

The first heavy wind or tornado that blows through will be sure to expose any damage to your roof or siding. If you have any loose shingles or siding, you can wave goodbye to them as they blow away. It is important to batten down the hatches before the first storm hits. Have a contractor come out for a house call and inspect the condition of your roof and siding and make any necessary repairs before it is too late.

Trim your trees

Winds and rain won’t just blow off your shingles and siding, but limbs and trees too. Loose, weak, or dead limbs, branches, and trees can give way and blow off during storms, and when they do, they can cause some serious damage to your home. There is not much more of a rude awakening than a branch crashing down damaging your roof or breaking through a window. Help avoid this by having a professional landscaper come out to inspect your surrounding trees and do any necessary work.

Prepare an emergency kit

Indiana storms can get pretty nasty. You never know when one is going to knock out your power or force you to seek shelter in your basement. You can prepare for the worst by always making sure you have an emergency kit ready to go if need be. Your emergency kit should be filled with essentials like a first aid kit, flashlights with batteries, a lantern, maybe a little food, and anything else you may and your family may need in a dire circumstance.

As you prepare for storm season, it is so important that your home is up for the challenging weather ahead. Call Lathrop Contracting for all your gutter, roofing, and siding needs, whether it is preparing for storm season or trying to recover from it. Our years of experience working with Indiana homeowners has made us experts in home storm repair.

Call (317) 783-6929 to set up an appointment for a roofing, siding, or gutter estimate today.