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115 S Wilke Road, Ste 206F
Arlington Heights, IL 60005


What Causes Ice Dams?

Considering all the potential problems that ice dams can cause, it's surprising homeowners know so little about what causes them. In fact, it doesn't take much. Only three conditions must be present:

1. A Heavy Snowfall  -- Enough to leave several inches of snow on a roof. The more snow, the greater the potential an ice dam may form.

2. Continuously Cold Temperatures -- A heavy snow followed by several days of 40-degree temperatures probably won't result in an ice dam. The air temperature must remain cold enough for water to freeze. When temperatures fall below 20 degrees, conditions are especially favorable.

3. An Under Ventilated and Poorly Insulated Attic -- Factors that create what amounts to a "hot and cold roof." When these conditions are in place here's what happens: Heat escapes from the living quarters into the attic. The colder the outside temperature the higher the thermostat is set. The heat builds up at the upper levels of the attic eventually warming the roof deck. Once the deck is warm snow on the roof begins to melt. Obviously, if the sun breaks out following a snowstorm melting is accelerated. Water runs down the roof until it reaches the area over the eaves. Since this area of the roof remains cold, the runoff from the melting snow begins to freeze and the ice dam forms (along with a more easily seen symptom of the problem, icicles hanging from gutters). As the dam builds, it begins to trap more snow melt, extending the height of the dam. But the real problems begin when water begins to pool, backing up under the shingles. Once that happens, damage can be extensive. Damage to drywall, insulation, ceilings, electric, and paint are not uncommon. Ice Guard roofing membrane used in reroofing can help but not totally prevent water penetration.

The best solution is prevention. Be sure your attic is heavily insulated and your attic is adequately ventilated with both intake and exhaust to help diminish the chances of damage from ice dams. Attic insulation and attic ventilation are your best weapons in the fight against ice dams.

Siding and insulation: What's your number?

Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Insulation is measured by R-value, which refers to its ability to resist heat flow. The higher the number, the better the insulating power.

Recommended R-values vary from area to area. In the Chicago area, Zone 5, when replacing siding, R5-R6 insulative wall sheathing is used beneath the new siding. A properly insulated home can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

In addition to siding, look for other areas to improve energy efficiency, in particular, leaky or poorly installed windows.  Give us a call to learn more: 847-253-9500.    

Insulated vinyl siding and energy efficiency

Informative read about siding and energy efficiency.

Curb appeal, appraisals affect home values

As the housing market shows improvement, many homeowners are once again considering putting their homes up for sale. If you are like many Americans, home improvement projects were put on hold for the last three years. So, it's time to reassess your home and decide what should be updated. Real estate agents suggest that curb appeal and appraisal booster projects are the guidelines when deciding what projects to undertake before putting your home up for sale.

Curb Appeal: You can enhance curb appeal with these projects:

  • Maintain the landscaping
  • Keep up with the paintwork both inside and outside of your home
  • Replace your home's siding and gutters
  • Replace old window frames with wooden or energy-efficient ones

Bringing your home up to your area's standards is important. Banks and real estate transactions all use appraisers. And appraisers use what are called 'comps' or comparables. Those are similar homes in the area that sold for a certain price and then that is used to determine the market value of your home.

Appraisers have certain things they look for as key determinants of value. For example, the location of the real estate (location, location, location!), the livable square footage of a home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, if it has a fireplace, what the home is constructed out of, what it "looks" like (curb appeal), etc.

What don't they care about? Well, they don't care what color your living room is or what brand of kitchen appliance you have. What you want to focus on with appraisal booster projects are high ROI projects that improve the appraisal value and comps.

Appraisal booster projects are home repairs that will automatically boost the appraisal of your home such as energy-efficient windows and doors, wood flooring, or the addition of a fireplace. To avoid financial loss and disappointment later, remember to always consult with a realtor or renovations expert to determine how much value planned renovations will add to your home.

Roofing in the winter?

We are often asked if a roofing job can be done in the colder winter months. Sometime roofing problems don't wait for the warmer days of spring. Most roofing manufacturers recommend temperatures above 40 degrees for several reasons. Fiberglass shingles have a self-adhesive strip that plays an important role in keeping the shingles in place and creates an effective seal that guards against wind damage. When the temperature is too cold the adhesive isn't as effective. Extremely cold weather also makes shingle brittle and prone to breaking which leads to the need for more materials.

However, emergencies do occur and that's when you need to call Professional Home Improvement at 847-253-9500.


What happens when siding fails and isn't replaced in a time manner? The cost clock start ticking. The longer you wait, the more expensive the replacement becomes.

Not only does failed siding open your home to all manner of weather (rain, snow, ice = water everywhere,) and insect damage, it delivers a blow to your home's market value should you decide to sell or use as collateral in a re-financing package.

Further, your relationship with your neighbors who will also be affected by a lower market value can become strained. Homeowners sometimes elect to turn damaged or missing siding into do-it-yourself weekend projects. This is a cost savings IF the homeowner has the knowledge, tools and materials, but more often than not, the savings evaporates when any of those three elements is lacking.

Matching existing siding is an art unto itself for which the weekend carpenter is ill equipped. We have the experience, know-how, tools, siding, and resources to fix and match existing siding. A call will bring one of our factory-trained professionals to your home for a consultation. Save your valuable weekends for time with the family or serious man-cave down-time! 

No scandals in our background!

Cover up (noun)

1.any action concealing or preventing investigation exposure.
We don't believe in cover-ups. We don't install new siding over old siding. Mold can be thriving under old siding. Insects may have a cozy home lurking below the surface. A wide range of structural issues could be just out of sight.
And because we remove the older siding before installing new siding, it gives us the perfect opportunity to install insulation, which many homes do not have. This added protection greatly improves energy savings, makes your family more comfortable year 'round and increases your home value when it comes time to sell.
As the old saying goes: "Be a job, big or small, do it right, or not at all." Give us a call and find out how we can save you heating and cooling costs, improve your comfort, and add value to one of your largest investments.

The Windy City: Chicago is not always gentle on your home!

While we love living in our beautiful area, the weather can take its toll on our homes. Obvious weather damage includes wind and hail. The impact of hail on a home is immediately obvious: it can dent some types of siding, rip holes in roofs, and even break windows.

Wind can work its way behind siding at the seams and pull panels away from the home, rip off shingles, and cause tree branches to break windows. Your first call should be to your insurance agent. Your second call should be to us. The sooner repairs can be made, the less severe the damage will be. Left unattended, water can enter your home exacerbating the damage done. Mold can form, which is a health risk.

The next time the Windy City howls, check your exterior and give us a call at 847-253-9500.

Is your home well dressed?

Siding is Like an Overcoat for Your House: It keeps the hawk of winter at bay, spring showers outside, and the effects of old Sol from turning your home into a French bread oven. Just like an overcoat, siding is chosen for its geographic location and the weather it expects to encounter. Picking the best siding to meet a home's particular needs then, is both a function of design preferences and physical needs.

Fortunately, siding comes in many styles, colors, and price ranges. When choosing siding, there will be several choices within a homeowner's budget and sense of design. Choosing the right siding then, falls short of television commercials, but rather smack dab in the realm of the siding contractor.

A competent siding contractor can guide homeowners in selecting what best makes sense. When a homeowner picks a siding contractor, that contractor must have ample experience, understand the physical ramification of an area, and must have the applicable license, insurance, and bond. He will also know how to listen to his homeowners as well as explain what's needed to get the job done.

Professional Home Improvement has been dressing Chicago's homes in siding for decades. Call for a list of recent homes then drive by and see for yourself. Professional help, there when you need it.

How to tell when you need to replace your siding

There are several reasons to replace your siding. Aesthetics: As your home ages, its age shows. What was attractive 30 years ago, may not look great now. It may be time to bring your home up-to-date visually, especially if considering selling it.

Most Realtors will tell you that you should replace your defective siding if you wish to sell your home in a timely manner and for a good price. If you do get an offer, the buyer will almost always want a discount because of your siding.  

Damage: If you can see fungus, seams separating, caulking failing, boards not lying flat against your house, paint issues, moisture on the inside of your house, you have damaged siding. In extreme cases you may have a condition called "dry rot." Dry rot is a weakening of wood caused by one of several species of fungus. The fungus digests the parts of the wood that give the wood strength and stiffness. Weakened wood is typically somewhat dry, hence the name dry rot may be brittle and may have a blocky appearance. Ironically, dry rot usually results from too much moisture in contact with wood. The dry rot fungus has the unusual ability to transport water from wet areas to dry areas allowing the fungus to grow in relatively dry wood. If not stopped, the dry rot fungus will weaken wood and it may eventually disintegrate.

Energy Efficiency: When installed properly, new siding with the correct R-value insulation, will significantly reduce your energy bills. A more comfortable home with lower utility bills is a great reason to invest in your home. It's not too late in the year to consider new siding. Give us a call to learn more: 847-253-9500.

Siding and insulation: What's your number?

Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Insulation is measured by R-value, which refers to its ability to resist heat flow. The higher the number, the better the insulating power.

Recommended R-values vary from area to area. In the Chicago area Zone 5, when replacing siding, R5-R6 insulative wall sheathing is used beneath the new siding. A properly insulated home can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

In addition to siding, look for other areas to improve energy efficiency, leaky, or poorly installed windows.  

Give us a call to learn more: 847-252-9500.    

Old Man Winter is coming! Are your windows ready?

How do you know if your windows should be replaced before Old Man Winter arrives?

Cold or warm spots near windows are usually a good sign that your current windows aren't doing their job. Place your hand on a wall near a window, move it around, and note if there is a significant temperature difference.

Check for drafts. Hold a lit candle or burning match along the edge of each window. If the flame flickers, indicating a draft, that window is a good candidate for replacement.

In older wooden framed windows, it's important to check for decay or rot. This can be done by applying medium pressure against the wood with a flat blade screwdriver (not a phillips). If the wood gives under the pressure, it's probably time to consider replacements.

When condensation or ice collects on the window glass, inadequate insulation is usually the culprit. Time to call a professional!

Windows are designed to operate within a narrow range of parameters. If they have lost the ability to open and close smoothly, or need a stick to prop them open, it's time to replace them.

When the weather seal that is maintained by caulk is lost, the window has lost its ability to keep the outside out and the inside in. Checking the caulk is easy. In the evening, after it is dark, go outside, observe the window while someone stands in the room with the lights off and shine a flashlight around the perimeter of the window. If the caulk seal is lost, the light will shine through.

Owning a home is a great pleasure but one that carries responsibilities in order to keep its value. We would be happy to visit your home and evaluate your windows. If you need replacements, we have many options to meet your needs and budget.