Deck Railings for Summer Safety

Deck Railings for Summer SafetyDeck railings are available in a wide variety of styles, materials, and designs; but when it comes down to it, all deck railings are meant to perform the same job no matter what they look like. A deck is a great place to hang out or entertain when the weather’s warm. Deck railings are there to make sure that large objects don’t fall off the deck and injure someone below; they’re also designed to keep a small stumble from turning into a 15 foot drop.

Making the most of a Deck Wall
The exterior wall of the house that the deck is built onto can be a great asset. Anchoring the railing to the deck wall is a way to increase the stability of the railing. The deck wall is also a good place to install outdoor lighting. Though this wall will often have a small light already in place, putting up additional lights is often a necessity for safety and nighttime card games, alike.

Deck Railings and Building Code
As building codes vary greatly from place to place, make sure to check out what it is in your area before you shop for materials. In most places, deck railings are supposed to be a certain height, and the balusters need to be spaced at certain intervals, but in some cases, what you build your railings out of is also an issue. Deck railings around a pool will often be subject to different codes, as well.

Comparing Deck Railing Materials
Of course, the most common material used for this type of railing is wood, and it is often the same type of wood used to build the deck itself. However, because the amount of lumber used for deck railings is far less than what is used for the deck, some people opt for a more exotic wood as an accent.

Railings, especially those on stairs, will come into contact with a lot of hands. This makes them splinter territory. No matter what you build the deck out of, make sure that the railings are constructed of a durable wood that is sealed and treated to prevent splintering.

A safe railing needs to be strong enough to not budge if a person falls into it. For this reason, many homeowners choose metal railings or metal reinforcements for wood railings.

Composite and plastic lumber decking is becoming more and more common as people become more environmentally conscious. These materials can certainly be used to create the railings, as well. The problem here is that these materials haven’t been popular for very long, so it is hard to say what their performance will be like over many years. If you are thinking of using plastic or composite for your railing material, check with the manufacturer about which of their models has tested best (and about the warranty, too).

The Best Look
The last, but certainly not the least thing, to consider is how will your deck railings look in conjunction with your house. There aren’t any concrete rules here, but those who are thinking about painting the railings (or leaving them unfinished) should do some research on the various materials available. Some will take paint or stain extremely well, while others can hold up for decades without any finish at all.

Windows: Let the Light Shine In!

Windows, more than almost any other feature, give a modern home its personality. When homebuyers are asked to describe a home they’ve toured, they usually include references to light in their description. Women in particular seem highly attuned to the levels of natural light in a home.

Advances in window technology have made it possible for homeowners to greatly increase the number and size of windows without getting clobbered with higher energy bills. Modern windows are either double- or triple-glazed (meaning they have two or three layers of glass rather than one).

New Window Styles

While it usually makes economic sense to replace old, inefficient windows, many folks opt to go a step further and add or enlarge windows. A truly dramatic effect can be achieved by installing semi-circular palladium windows on top of traditional rectangular windows. There are even windows that go around corners to allow for a bright corner view unbroken by framing.

Many people are also installing skylights or roof windows. Early skylights were prone to leaking. Modern, top-of-the-line skylights that are carefully installed by a professional can be expected to remain water-tight for a long, long time. If you are considering skylights for your home, don’t skimp. In the long run, you’ll be glad you went with the best.

Energy Efficiency

Modern windows rely on a wide array of technologies to achieve a level of energy efficiency as high as five times that of traditional windows. All that technology can also be confusing. Terms like “low-E glass” and “argon gas” don’t mean much to the average consumer. Any firm making a presentation to you about windows is likely to use dozens of such terms. Fortunately, there is a simpler way to evaluate different windows.

An organization called the National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) has developed a rating system based on the U-factor. Most windows now carry this rating, so it’s becoming easy to make comparisons. You want the lowest U-factor possible. When you talk to different vendors, ask them about their window’s U-factor rating. You can also look for the NFRC label. Use the U-factor to compare not only the window’s energy efficiency, but its construction quality as well. It simply isn’t possible for a manufacturer to achieve a low U-factor rating without using high quality materials and precision manufacturing techniques.

Choosing Installers

Choosing the right firm to install your windows is at least as important as choosing the right window. The window must be installed absolutely level and square in order to perform at the level indicated on its rating label. It’s also important that the gaps left around the frame be carefully insulated before the trim is reinstalled.

Another issue to consider is the type of sash. Some windows don’t open at all. Because they are useless as an avenue of escape during a fire, these windows should be used sparingly. However, they are by far the most energy efficient, and are ideal for high, out-of-reach locations. The next most efficient closing style is the kind that swing or crank out. When you close these windows, the window sash presses against a pliable piece of weather-stripping. When completely closed, the compressed weather-strip forms a very effective seal.

Window Materials

Least efficient are the traditional sliding sashes. A tight seal makes the window hard to slide, so the seals are left intentionally loose. Over time the seal becomes even looser. While most people focus on energy savings, the savings on maintenance can be even higher. Most replacement windows are made from wood or vinyl. Vinyl windows never have to be painted inside or out. In any painting project, whether interior or exterior, the most expensive part is the windows. Painting all those frames and mullions takes time. With vinyl windows you’ll save 30-50 percent off your painting costs. The combination of vinyl windows and vinyl siding can eliminate the need for exterior painting entirely.

Some people prefer the natural look of wood. From an energy standpoint it works as well as vinyl. From a maintenance cost perspective it is inferior to vinyl. If you want the wood look, check out the fake woods first. If they aren’t the look you want, by all means go for real wood. For you, the higher maintenance costs may be justified by more pleasing aesthetics.


Because modern replacement windows can have such a dramatic impact on the appearance of a home both inside and outside, and because they can generate substantial long run savings, they are excellent candidates for financing. You can get the improvement you seek now and offset monthly payments with both energy and maintenance savings. If you use a loan secured by your home, it is likely that you’ll realize tax savings as well.

Double-Paned Window Repair

We can’t tell you what to do about your kids when they send that baseball flying into your double-paned window, but we can tell you what to do to repair the window. Of course, what we tell you may not make you any happier with the situation, either.

Once the glass has broken in your double-paned window the factory seal goes with it. This means simply replacing the glass won’t recreate the insulating properties that once were. You may be able to remove the window and reinstall it yourself, but you’ll still need to send the window back to the manufacturer to regain the earlier benefits.

DIY Double-Paned Window Repair

Repairing a double-paned window is almost never completely a DIY project, but you may be able to cut some corners and reduce the cost of the repair. Depending on the style of your window, you may be able to remove the entire window sash. This sash may then be taken to a window repair specialist. This specialist will be able to examine your window panel and, from the size and thickness, order and install the new window in the old frame. Manufacturers can vary on price and high-performance windows, such as low-E glass or gas-filled glass, may need to be special ordered.

Talk to multiple window repair contractors to find the best price on the installation and the glass itself. Also, talk to the contractor about any tips on removing and replacing the sash into your window opening. This will help you determine if the project is beyond your skill. Keep in mind, as well, that some manufacturers won’t honor warranties unless the window is installed by a professional. Having a contractor come to your home may double or triple the cost of the repair, but in many cases, it’s still worth it. Your new window should last you a long time, and it’ll save you a bunch of time and headaches.

The Cost of Repairing Double-Paned Windows

Knowing that the price of repairing your double-paned window can vary probably doesn’t give you a definite idea of what to expect. The glass itself may range from $30 to well over $100. Having a window specialist install the window at his or her shop is probably going to set you back at least another $30 to $60, and if you need to have someone come out to your home to replace a quality, double-paned window, plan on the total repair cost to easily surpass the $200 mark.

Other Problems 

Of course, having your kid throw a hardball through the window isn’t the only thing that can go wrong with your double-paned windows. Through age and high moisture content, the factory seal can become broken on its accord. Often, your window will fog up when this has happened. You’ll still need to have the window repaired by a specialist to regain the seal, but sometimes this can be done without removing the window from the sash. With this time of disrepair, in particular, you should first check to see if the window is under warranty before hiring the services of a window repair contractor.

Install Window Hardware

Before you can install window hardware, you must first choose the window hardware that’s best for your windows. This may sound like an easier job than what it actually is. By the time you’ve selected a double-glazed, low E glass replacement window, you’ll probably feel like you’ve made all the decisions you need, when you’ve just scratched the surface. Window design and hardware have more options than window glaze, and the choices are a lot less cut and dry. Some designs are more complicated but allow for greater window operating flexibility. Simpler designs, on the other hand, may have fewer parts that can deteriorate and require repair.

Window Hardware Basics
This is far from a comprehensive list, but here are a few common window hardware items that you may be dealing with, depending on the type of window you decide you want. Most homeowners, naturally, are looking for window hardware and window companies that will install windows that have the least likelihood of falling into disrepair.

  • A crank arm is a finger-length rod used to open steel case windows.
  • A butterfly window-opening device is similar to a crank arm but smaller and ideal for windows that have shades that hang inside the sill. This device can be a straight arm or rounded.
  • Window locks and latches can be sliding locks, padlocks, hook locks, or key locks.
  • Window sash and balance design that keeps your sliding window operating smoothly.

Window Hardware Professionals
Any number of people can offer advice on your window hardware. Even your neighbor probably has a reasonable amount of experience with different windows throughout the years. Architects have a general knowledge of home structural design, including windows, but probably lack the specific expertise to choose between different window hardware options. Interior designers are great sources of information and advice on any number of home design options, but you’ll need to find a designer who has knowledge in the function and performance of window hardware, not just its appearance. Window installation professionals are probably your best bet for an expert opinion on window hardware.

Curtain Hardware/Drapery Hardware
Hardware of this type is also sometimes referred to simply as window treatment hardware. As counterintuitive as it may seem, there are probably more types of curtain and drapery hardware available than standard window hardware. The reason for this is simple. More than a simple curtain rod, many homeowners want their curtain hardware to be invisible. Holdbacks, swag holders, and drapery pins are just some of the mechanisms that can create invisible curtain hardware. Even visible or partially visible curtain and drapery hardware is available in a number of different designs and finishes to match your home decor.

Brighten Your Home with Sliding Glass Doors

Is your living room or kitchen a bit gloomy? Or do you have a beautiful backyard landscape that remains hidden from inside the house? These problems are probably due to the lack of windows in your home. Additional light in any room can make it look bigger, more open, and bright. Plus, you are then able to have a better view of your backyard, garden, or patio. Though creating a window space in a wall is certainly possible, another more affordable option is to replace you entryways and exits with sliding glass doors. These doors not only provide windows, they also make for easy entrances onto decks, porches, or patios.

Different Designs
Sliding glass doors have come a long way in the past few years. They no longer use clunky plastic panes and trim. Today, these units come in many different design options. Maybe you want multiple doors joined together; or maybe you want them small and subtle. Would you like them to come in aluminum, vinyl, woods, metal, or fiberglass? Do you want them top-hung from your entryway in order to avoid any dirt, leaves, or debris in the glide track? As you can see, the options are limitless in terms of style and design, so the difficult part about investing in sliding glass doors is actually choosing the best fit due to their wide selection.

Just because these doors are made of glass doesn’t mean they are fragile. In fact, they offer quite a bit of protection to you and your home. If you live in an area with a lot of insects you may want to select a door with screens that open and shut so you can let in fresh air yet still create a barrier from unwanted pests. You can also install double pane doors in order to soundproof your home from outdoor disturbances.

If you choose to layer your doors (installing two doors with a small gap of air between them) for additional security, you can also create a natural form of insulation, thereby driving down your utility bills. Though people often think that these doors leak heat in the winter and increase the temperature during summer months, if you buy appropriate weather stripping and insulated glass, you can in fact generate more efficiency in your energy costs, especially if you invest in glazed glass with a low-E coating.

Accessory Options
There used to be limitations to these doors, but now with modern-day innovations, they can serve the same functions as any other doorway. You can still install pet-doors with specialized systems. And if you’re afraid that they are too convenient in that there is too much easy access, there are now even security options for parents who want to apply setting restrictions for kids. These systems only allow the door to slide open to a certain degree, making them exceptionally childproof.

Plus, if you don’t want your home exposed to nosy neighbors all the time but don’t want to cover up with curtains and shades either, there several alternatives: etched glass, stained glass, and even adhesive-free vinyl film designs that stick right to the door are ways to let the light in but keep wandering eyes out.

If you have the opposite problem in that you wish more light could enter the room, then folding doors are maybe your best option: doors which can open up the entire wall to a sunroom, an enclosed porch, or a patio, yet can also close at your convenience. And as always, there a many traditional window treatments to choose from: horizontal and vertical blinds, sashes and curtains, or maybe decorative screens that can cover the window whenever desired.

Savin’ Space with Pocket Doors

Pocket doors are doors that slide into a wall instead of opening on a hinge like most conventional doors. They have been used for over a century in order to save space, both in cramped areas and in the central areas of Victorian style homes in order to close off large areas such as sitting rooms and dens. If you’re looking for a space saving solution in closets, bathrooms or in larger homes with interior French doors, these innovative door solutions are the answer you’ve been looking for.

Where Did it Go?

The benefit of this type of door is obvious. Traditional swinging doors hung on a hinge can take up as much as 10 square feet of your living space just to accommodate the space they need to swing open and closed. A pocket door, on the other hand, simply slides into a frame installed within the wall, freeing up the space that a conventional door occupies. They are particularly suited to cramped, small areas, such as half-baths and small closets, where a swinging door takes up valuable space and often is an inconvenience to those using them. And in more wide open homes where French doors are often installed between living areas, they free up valuable space for furniture and foot traffic.

Quiet as a Mouse

One of the major complaints of this style of door in the past has been that older versions ran on steel runners and rollers and were noticeably noisy in comparison to their hinged counterparts. Not the case anymore. The runners are still made of solid steel, but the most common rollers are now made of a hard nylon material, reducing the noise they make when the door is opened or shut. Deluxe ball bearing rollers are also available that reduce the noise to almost nothing.

The innovations in runner technology have also alleviated one of the other drawbacks of these types of doors that arose mid-century, when poor products often resulted in doors that jumped the tracks inside the wall. Modern doors rarely have this problem because of the high quality products currently available on the market.

Not for Everywhere

The one drawback of these doors is that they can’t be used just anywhere. Because they necessitate a special frame to house them, several factors must be taken into account before they are installed.

Obviously they will only work where there is enough interior wall space to house the door, but you also need to take into account things such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and ductwork, as the space needed for the door and frame won’t be able to accommodate these features of your home.

Finally, while the frame is plenty strong to be installed in most interior walls, it is not as strong as regular framing. That being the case, you can’t install a pocket door in areas where extra strength is needed, such as load bearing walls or walls where heavier home features such as cabinets are already installed.

A Few Extra Thoughts

While these innovative doors are convenient as a space saving alternative, they also have other benefits. They are handicapped accessible and make it easier for those in wheelchairs to maneuver around a home, and some of the more novel designs include multiple panel glass doors for luxury homes that allow the homeowner to open up an entire wall to the outdoors when the weather permits. Regardless of your need, a cramped bathroom or a sprawling great room, pocket doors are a convenient, attractive and space saving alternative door option.

Door Frame Repair

A malfunctioning door, especially if it is a main entry door, can be quite a hassle. Problems involving sticking or difficulty getting the door to latch properly can make coming in and leaving the house a chore in itself, never mind if you’re trying to carry groceries or a small child! Sometimes, the door frame is the culprit in this situation. Instead of sanding down part of the door itself, you may simply need to realign or otherwise alter the frame.

Quick Door Frame Repair
While door frame repair is not always a simple task, in some cases, the fix is a relatively easy one. Binding, for example, is often caused by the door frame settling or an out-of-plumb hinge jamb. To fix a binding door, install a shim under the top hinge, if the bind is near the bottom, or under the bottom hinge, if the bind is near the top. If the door hinge jamb is not plumb, shim under whichever hinge will cause the door edge to hang truly vertical. Built-up paint can cause this problem, and simply needs to be cleaned out.

To install a shim, support the door, remove the hinge jamb screw, and cut thin cardboard to fit into the mortise, under the hinge flap. Replace the screw, driving them through the cardboard into the jamb.

Door Frame Repair or Replacement
If your door frame is old, putting in a shim might not be an effective tactic. Old wood door frames can warp over time and cause the door to bind or swing open when you don’t want it to by hindering latch function. In this scenario, it might be a good idea to simply purchase and install a new door frame instead of repairing the old one. To compare, see the average door installation cost. If this is happening on a newly installed door frame, you may be able to send it back to the manufacturer to have it repaired or replaced.

Aesthetic Door Frame Repair
Sometimes door frame repair is meant to enhance form rather than function. Removing old door frame trim (sometimes referred to as “molding” or “casing”) and replacing it with a different style can make a dramatic difference in the look of the door, and the room or wall the door occupies. Removing and replacing trim is a relatively easy operation, but requires some patience if you want to keep the surrounding paint intact. If a single section of trim is damaged and you want to replace it, it is likely that you’ll be able to find a matching piece of trim at a home improvement store. Even if the trim you’re replacing is very old, many classic styles are still available. You’ll probably be able to find a matching replacement easier than you think!

Door Frames and Foundation Issues
If you have only one door that is misaligned, chances are that door or door frame repair is going to solve the problem. If you notice, however, that many of your doors and windows seem to be misaligned, you could have bigger problems. One of the classic symptoms of an unstable foundation is the sticking and binding of doors and windows around the home. Though this problem can be attributed to several things, noticing a series of misaligned doors and windows definitely warrants a professional inspection.

Make a Stylish Entrance

Make a Stylish EntranceAn attractive, welcoming entrance does more to greet friends and family than any other element of your home’s exterior. But, don’t forget that your entrance is much more than just your front door. Your walkways, your landscaping, your lighting and your front porch are all part of that first entry impression.

Most front entrances do little more for your home than serving a purpose, letting occupants and visitors in and out. Ironically, this is also an area where you can make a huge impact without breaking the bank.

Take a look at the front of your home. Does your front door have any accents? Trim work? Is the paint cracking and peeling? What is the state of your landscape? Does your current lighting scheme work?

Here are some easy ways to make a big difference in your front entry:


  • Replace the old door with a newer model of the same size. This will spare you the cost of resizing the opening, and still give you a lot of bang for your buck. Many models are built to fit into existing woodwork, which will also spare you the cost of having to replace the entire unit.
  • Add an attractive storm door to protect the entry door and keep heat inside in the winter, and bugs out in the summer. Choose a door with a movable sash to allow for more flexibility.
  • Trim the exterior of the door with finish carpentry such as columns and a crosshead pediment to extend the width of the door. Ask your carpenter about high-density urethane foam millwork, a great option to high maintenance wood.


  • Outdoor lighting can go a long way to create a warm welcoming effect for your guests. Lighting installed above or at both sides of the front door are good options.
  • Routinely check that all front lights are working and be sure to turn them on in the evening. You don’t want guests tripping because they can?t see well.
  • Adding ground-level lighting along your walkway. Solar-powered lights are an easy-to-install, inexpensive way to go.


  • Keep walkways swept free of debris and the clutter of children’s toys. Not only does this look nicer, it prevents accidents from happening.
  • Make that dingy walkway look brand new again by getting it power-washed.


  • Add inviting, comfortable chairs to your front porch. This creates a welcome setting, not to mention an additional room, in the summer months.
  • Consider adding a hummingbird feeder or plants that attract butterflies around your porch. The sights and sounds of nature can add a very peaceful feeling.


  • Maintain your landscaping by keeping shrubs trimmed and weeding the area. An overgrown landscape gives the impression of an unkempt home, as well.
  • Cut some fresh flowers from your garden to display just inside your entryway. This brings a little of the outdoors in and creates continuity from your front entrance walkway into the home.

Interior Painting Considerations & Ideas

Few additions transform the interior of your home more than a new coat of paint. Interior paint adds variety, color, and a touch of your personality to any room. Different interior paint colors can also be a great design tool, making larger rooms feel cozier and smaller rooms feel more spacious. Here’s a few tips when it comes to choosing paint for inside your home, so that you can feel confident you’re making the right paint decisions for your interior spaces.

Overwhelmed by the Options?

Most homeowners do feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing paint for the interior spaces of their home. It’s understandable, since there are literally thousands of colors to choose from. First and foremost, look for colors that are pleasing to you. Check your closet and take a long look at your wardrobe. The colors you see there are the ones you feel most comfortable in, and which best reflect your personality. Determining a baseline is always a good place to start, and makes for a great jumping off point when you pick up the color wheel at your local hardware store.

Think Design when Choosing Interior Paint

Besides choosing a color that reflects you, you also want to think about what impact different interior paint colors are going to have on different spaces. Light interior paint colors make a room feel more spacious, and are an excellent choice if you’re dealing with tight, confined spaces. Darker colors work the opposite, and are best suited for larger, spacious areas where you want to reign things in a little bit. On the flip side, darker colors are also more comforting and inviting, making them perfect for entryways, living rooms, and other areas where you entertain guests. Lighter colors lack the warmth of darker shakes, making spaces feel more formal and proper.

To Prime or Not to Prime

Once you’ve decided on interior paint colors, many homeowners are unsure whether a primer coat is necessary before applying the paint. The answer to this question is always “yes.” You might be able to get away without priming, especially if your new coat closely resembles the old paint in color, but a good coat of primer does more than just cover up the old paint. It also provides an ideal surface for your finish paint to adhere to, meaning your new paint job is going to look better, and last longer, than if you use a finish paint all by itself.

Flat, Satin, Eggshell, Semi-gloss, and Gloss

The last decision you’re going to need to make is which type of paint to use in each area. Flat paint is great for uses in areas that receive low traffic, and that you want to de-emphasize. Sitting side by side a high gloss variety, flat paint will be passed over every time. Satin, eggshell, and semi-gloss paints are better for high traffic areas, since they resist staining and are easier to clean than flat paints. And if you really want an area or architectural feature to get noticed, use glossy paint to get that perfect shine. Of course, remember, the glossier the paint, the more you’ll notice imperfections in the painted surface as well. For all these reasons, most homeowners choose the middle ground, and apply a semi-gloss or satin finish for their interior paint needs.

Consider Hiring a Professional Painter

Interior painting is certainly one of those home improvement jobs that any homeowner can tackle on their own. You’ll need the proper equipment (paint trays, tape, good brushes, rollers, ladders, and drop cloths), and a few weekends to get the job done, but this home improvement isn’t rocket science. Still, you might want to talk to a professional painter nonetheless, just to get an idea what they charge, and to mine for any ideas they might have for your home. Professionals are up on the newest design trends, paint innovations, and painting techniques, not to mention they can offer wall texturing and other services that are beyond the reach of most homeowners. If you’re thinking about adding a new coat of paint to the interior of your home, talk to a professional painter about your full range of design and paint options.

Don’t Ignore the Foundation of Your Home Repairs

The condition of every single home relies on the strength of the foundation beneath it and the shield of the roof above it. When a roofing system fails, often the first sign of trouble is a wet spot on your ceiling. So it is with your home’s foundation. When your concrete slab is no longer holding your home perfectly steady, walls and floors can begin to move, causing doors and windows from properly opening and closing, drywall to crack, or your siding to crumble and peel away from your home. More than visible markers, these problems are often the first sign that something is wrong with your home’s foundation.

One, if by Land: Unstable Soil and Shifting Foundations
Your home may seem immovable, but in fact, it’s vulnerable to the immense forces of the Earth beneath it. Geological events can make even sturdy, well-built homes seem like sand castles or cardboard cutouts. Soil erosion, shifting land masses, and sinkholes underneath your home are not things that can be easily prevented, but it is something to carefully watch out for. Quickly identifying problems with your home and having them checked out can reduce the cost of these surface repairs and the cost to fix the foundation itself.

ServiceMagic compiles data on homeowner service requests for each major U.S. city, including foundation repair. Some of the cities known for their loose soil, landslides, and damage to residential foundations include Atlanta, Dallas, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. That said, just because you don’t live in one of these cities doesn’t mean your home is safe from “slow landslides” and eroding topsoil. Likewise, just because you do live in one of these cities don’t necessarily mean your home’s foundation is under eminent threat of damage. If your house showing signs of movement, such as windows, doors, drywall, or siding damage, you should probably have someone look at your foundation for signs of trouble.

Two, if by Sea: Water Damage and Lawn Drainage
A perfect catch-22, while homes on severely sloped lots tend to be susceptible to landslides, homes on relatively flat lots tend to be susceptible to sitting water and inadequate lawn drainage. Gutter damage, poorly designed downspouts, and/or the inability of your lawn to divert water, can cause water to surround your foundation. This can, in turn, lead to basement flooding, soil erosion, and freeze/thaw cycles that can actually cause cracks in your concrete slab. Water damaged foundations tend to create even larger headaches than those of slow landslides, but water damage is also more easily preventable. So long as you keep up on your guttering system in good working condition, get semi-annual roof inspections, and watch out for the build up of water on your lawn after a heavy rain, chances are you’ll be able to identify and fix problem areas before they fester into costly damage.

If your home is on uncommonly flat terrain, you may some trouble keeping the water off your lawn and away from your foundation. Installing a drainage system isn’t difficult but finding out where this water can be diverted is often a bigger issue. You can’t simply point a trench drain at your neighbor’s lawn. Local governments also tend to be reluctant about letting you divert your rainwater runoff into a municipal sewer system. As a final resort, you may need to dig and install a dry well that will send your runoff into the groundwater. Installing a dry well requires securing a building permit from state of federal environmental agencies.

Fighting Back: Mudslinging
Actually, the professionals call it mudjacking. Regardless of what initially caused problems with your home’s foundation, the ensuing expansion, contraction, or compaction must be dealt with. The foundation should be raised or altered to its original specifications, but mudjacking is what helps keep it there. This process involves pumping soil-cement using low-pressure hydraulics to ensure the soil-cement will properly fill the voids beneath your foundation. Another method of foundation repair is called piping or piering, a technique that uses steel pipe reinforcements to salvage failed home foundations.