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Upgrading a homeís curb appeal 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

With spring on the horizon, now is a good time to start thinking about home exterior improvements. Vicki Payne of the PBS series "For Your Home" has provided some helpful tips on improving a home's exterior.

Check for water damage
After a long, hard New England winter a home will have been pelted with ice, snow and water. Over time, materials like cement, wood or fiber can swell, crack, peel, pit or fade. Since vinyl siding is PVC-based, it won't absorb water. The "rainscreening" design keeps water from getting behind the cladding, allowing the home to stay dry. 

Touch up paint jobs
After a few seasons, many homeowners will want to repaint their exteriors to give them that fresh look. Wood and fiber cement siding in particular will need a new coat of paint every few years at least. However, vinyl siding looks good as new for many years. Vinyl siding also includes a wide array of colors to choose from. Consider colors that match your home's architectural style. 

Slash energy bills
It may not be instantly noticeable from the outside, but innovations in insulation can dramatically cut down on energy bills. Energy efficient homes are quickly becoming more popular among home buyers because of the financial benefits and the improved comfort. Vinyl siding, in addition to looking brand new for many years and requiring very little maintenance, can also insulate your home and keep your energy bills low all year long. 

At Mercury Excelum, we provide vinyl siding and other products to make homes beautiful, comfortable and low maintenance all year long. Contact us for a catalog of our high-quality exterior home products. 

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Weatherstripping vs. Caulking 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

If you've repaired any drafty areas of a home, you're probably had to decide between weatherstripping or caulking. Both are useful for improving the comfort and energy efficiency of a home, by blocking air and creating a tight seal in leaky spots. Often times, people will confuse the two. So which one should you use? It depends on where the air leaks are coming from.

Home Advisor has included some guidelines on when you use caulking or weatherstripping, along with a helpful video

Weatherstripping
Weatherstripping is used on moveable joints such as a window track or door sweep. Over time, window and door frames can warp, leaving gaps in the joints. In order to determine the size of weatherstripping you need, you'll have to measure the joint.

Caulking
Caulking can be used on windows, doors and faucets. It's generally used to seal areas that don't move, such as cracks and gaps that lead to air leaks. These leaks should be less than a quarter of an inch wide.

Both of these options can work in a pinch, but for long-term home improvement you're going to need to look at something more substantial. New windows and exterior doors can help air from leaking out of windows and doorways. Vinyl siding can form a seal around the exterior of your home, reducing drafts. 

Mercury Excelum has been providing the New England region with replacement windows, vinyl siding and other exterior building products since 1953. Our high-quality exterior products offer beauty, comfort and energy efficiency all year long. Contact us to learn more about how we can help make homes more efficient and livable.

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Donít damage your home this winter 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Winter is here and the days getting much colder. There are many ways to prepare a home for the winter months, but there are also some things you can do that will cause serious damage. House Beautiful has a list of ways you could be damaging your house. Make sure not to do anything of these things this winter.Don't a metal snow shovel

Don't use a metal snow shovel
Metal shovels can leave tiny metal pieces that will get into your driveway. Over time, these metal bits can rust and damage the appearance of pavement or concrete. Use a plastic shovel instead. 

Don't let pipes freeze
If water pipes aren't insulated the water can turn to ice, which will keep you from getting water on cold days. In worst case scenarios, the pipes can even burst. Usually pipes freeze when they're exposed to cold air, or if they run through an uninsulated exterior wall. Slipping foam insulation over the pipes, letting them run a bit on cold days and opening cabinets to expose the pipes to warm air can help. 

Don't let window wells fill with snow
Your window wells can get clogged with snow or leaves, and this will prevent proper drainage from your house. Shovel the snow and leaves out when they start to fill up. You can even cover them to keep them from building up. 

Don't leave outside faucets on
If you don't shut their water off during the winter, exterior faucets can freeze. Just like pipes, they can crack and leak when the ice expands. Make sure to shut the water off so they're empty when it reaches freezing temperatures. 

Mercury Excelum supplies home solutions that offer beauty, comfort and energy efficiency all year long. Contact us to learn more about what products we have offer.

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How to clean vinyl siding without a power washer 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Vinyl siding, while low-maintenance, can acquire buildup over time. If you don't have a power washer, cleaning it off is still very simple. Eric Limer of Popular Mechanics shared some simple ways to clean vinyl siding with no power tools. Make sure that before you apply these solutions all over your house, first apply it to a small test area and leave it for 24 to 48 hours, just to be certain it won't have any adverse affects. 

Bleach solution
Great Day Improvements includes a recipe for a solution made from bleach, household detergent and water. This is very effective against mildew and mold, so if you have white vinyl that is turning green, this is the recommended solution. Mix the following ingredients and put them in a garden sprayer:

  • One quart of liquid laundry bleach
  • One third cup of powdered laundry detergent
  • Two thirds cup of powdered household cleaner
  • One gallon of water

Bleach is a very harsh chemical so make sure to wear a safety mask and gloves when applying this solution, and keep it away from children and pets. Use the garden sprayer to apply the mixture to your vinyl siding, then wait for ten minutes. After ten minutes, rinse it off with a hose. 

Vinegar solution
Another mixture from Great Day Improvements is made from water, vinegar and baking soda. This one is more effective against mildew and is also safer for the environment. Still, vinegar can kill plants just as well as bleach so don't let this spill on your garden. Mix the following ingredients in a bucket:

  • Seven cups of water
  • Three cups of vinegar

In a small plastic container, mix the following: 

  • One half cup of water
  • One quarter cup of baking soda

You will need to apply these mixtures using a scrub brush, so this will take longer. Use the baking soda mixture on tough spots. Wear gloves as vinegar can be harsh on your hands. 

Contact us to learn more about vinyl siding and the many benefits to this beautiful, cost-effective material. 

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Installing storm doors 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Storm doors and other exterior doors can cut down on drafts during the winter months. They're also easy to install. This Old House has helpful installation tips

Measure the doorway's width at the top, middle and bottom. Decide which way the door should swing. Its hinges should open the same way as the interior door. Rest the door in place in the frame, holding it up with your shoulder. Drill pilot holes through the rails and put screws in the holes. Then drill more pilot holes into the edge of the casing, driving a screw into each one. Remove the spacer clips and put the door latch in. Line the jamb bracket up horizontally with the trim and screw it in. Then add the bracket arm and screw it into the jamb. 

Extending the closer as far as possible, connect it to the jamb bracket with a pin. Then mount another closer at the top, matching the bottom one. Cover the gap between the head casing and the storm door with a rain-cap mounting flange. To adjust the door sweep, close the door. Tighten the screws to the sweep as it drops to the sill. Add glass retainer strips to the top and bottom of the frame. Make sure the rain cap and rails are covered by vinyl screw caps. Add sealant along the top and sides to secure the glass. 

Exterior doors can improve energy efficiency and modernize a home's appearance. Fill out a brochure request form for more information.

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