The Enclosure Systems of a Well-Built House
From the frame to the fridge, your house is a system that works together to provide you with the necessities of life. It should be a comfortable system that keeps you warm, dry, healthy, and housed in a way that suits your family. In addition to the interior structures and frame of your home, your house has windows, siding, and roofing. The residential building envelope protects you from the elements and keeps you healthy and safe.
Your Roof Influences the Rest of Your Home
When you’re indoors enjoying a book on a rainy day, you may think of your roof with gratitude, but most of the time the roof is a part of your residential enclosure system that people take for granted. You need to have a roof, but you may not think about it all that often.
The roof performs several functions. It acts as the top of the building envelope, enclosing the space. It also protects you from the wind, rain, and temperature extremes. In some cases, your roof can also collect water, grow plants, or generate energy. However, its primary function is structural: it’s there to protect your other home systems.
When you’re considering a new roof, you have many options to choose from, and each has its pros and cons:
- Cracks in the floor and walls. Look under the flooring to see if there are any emerging cracks.
- Water damage to the floor and walls. Look for soft spots, feel the walls for damp, and look for staining. This can tell you where the foundation is shifting and cracking.
Why do foundations crack and leak?
Shifting and expanding soil is the cause of many foundation problems. Clay soils swell when they encounter water, causing your foundation to move. They shrink when they’re dry, and moisture moves away from under or beside your foundation. This causes your foundation to experience pressure and settling, leading to cracks.
Water in the soil not only causes the soil to shift, it can leak into the walls and the foundation and cause even more damage. Water can gently erode your foundation or basement walls, especially if it gets into a crack and expands during the colder winter months. To ensure that water is not a problem for your foundation, you need to make sure that your soil gently slopes away from your house and that your drains do not get clogged and send water over the sides, making the area around your foundation wet.
Maintain your indoor and outdoor plumbing as well so that damaged plumbing does not cause problems in the walls around your foundation. For instance, a burst pipe in the winter can not only cause home damage, it can send a lot of water into the soil, leading to further structural damage.
What Home Maintenance Does Your Foundation Need?
Foundations aren’t something to pour and leave alone. They need ongoing to work well. However, unlike other parts of your home, your foundation isn’t something that you can replace if it gets old and worn. You need to proactively work to prevent problems and repair your foundation, since if it gets damaged it can have serious impacts for the longevity of your entire home.
- Roofing Material
- Composition shingle
- Wood shakes
- Clay tile
- Concrete tile
- Solar shingles
- Durable, large selection, easy to install
- Variation and character
- Long life, does not rot or burn
- Low maintenance, rot resistant
- Durable, energy-efficient, recyclable
- Generate energy
- Blow off in the wind, easily scars when hot
- Needs ongoing maintenance for rot and insects, may not be rated for fire safety
- Heavy. May need extra roof support
- Emerging product and technology
- Costly, must be installed by a pro
- More expensive
You also need to work to protect your roof over time. Conduct inspections of your roof annually at a minimum, and make sure that your systems such as gutters and gutter covers allow your roof to drain easily in all seasons of the year.
Residential Enclosure Systems: Home Siding
Your home siding protects your other home systems. Siding is a major aesthetic element in home construction, and a home with wood siding looks very different than a home with stone or vinyl. When you’re looking at the siding, several factors should influence your choice:
- What does it look like, and how does this fit with the desired aesthetic for your home?
- How much does it cost?
- What is its typical life span?
- How does it hold up to the specific weather conditions in your area, such as intense sun, rain, or wind?
- How energy-efficient is it?
- Are there any specific maintenance requirements for the siding? Can you manage these year after year?
How do different siding choices compare?
- Wood siding gives a rustic look to your home. This siding needs to be treated with fire retardants.
- Engineered wood is strong, light, and less expensive than wood. It lasts up to 30 years, less than many siding materials.
- Stucco can easily be shaped or textured, and it’s versatile.
- Stone is incredibly durable and weathers well. It’s quite expensive and tricky to install.
- Bricks are durable, light, and low maintenance. Water can enter brick veneers, so you need to ensure that you have a good water membrane.
- Metal gives a modern look to your home. It’s strong, durable, and expensive.
Windows Are an Integral Part of Your Residential Building Envelope
What is a window? Is it just a gap in the residential building envelope to let the light come in? No: it’s more important than that. A window has many different functions in your home:
- It allows light to enter a space, reducing your lighting bills
- They allow warmth to enter a room, adding heat to passive solar elements of your home such as a stone floor or fireplace.
- They provide cool, fresh air
- They can act as an additional to your home ventilation system. For example, windows in the upper floors or windows near the top of a roof can open to allow heat to exit from your home.
Windows aren’t just part of a wall, and they’re not only a way to see the view. They’re an integrated part of your home lighting, heating, and energy system.
At Harry Helmet, we’re here to help you maintain your building envelope. Enjoy your home instead of worrying about maintenance. Our roofing, awnings, gutter systems and gutter covers are designed to be strong and require little maintenance over time. Contact us today and view our photo gallery to see how we can keep your home warm, dry, and safe.