7 Home Exterior Issues You Should Never Ignore + Bonus Tip

Joe Kelly

April 30, 2024

before and after of a home with damaged siding

Dealing with surprise costs for pricey home fixes is a total headache for many homeowners. If you take care of your home and notice the issues early you can avoid getting hit with a hefty bill.

A typical exterior job can cost around $1,500 - $3,000 for something small to $7,500 - 20,000+ for bigger jobs depending on the complexity of the project.

As a matter of fact.

We recommend homeowners set aside 1% - 4% of their home’s value for a home maintenance fund.

Many small repairs can be taken care of by the homeowner.

Today, we’ll go through the major home exterior issues you should never ignore and I’ll even give you some tips on how to do some of them yourself.

If you have a particular problem and would like to jump ahead, here's what we're covering:

  1. Dry Rot
  2. Mold Growth
  3. Fogged or Cracked Windows
  4. Faded or Peeling Paint
  5. Loose or Damaged Siding/Shingles/Roofing
  6. Pest Infestations
  7. Leaks & Poor Insulation
photo of a house with dry rot

 1) Every Homeowner Should Be Aware Of Dry Rot

When was the last time you inspected your home?

We get a ton of phone calls from local Pacific Northwest homeowners asking about dry rot in their homes.

And yes! Handling dry rot is a service we provide.

This is also an issue, if minor, the average homeowner can take care of themselves. You can prevent many big problems in your home if you take care of them right away. 

Here’s how dry rot affects your home:

🦠 Weakens the wood, making it lose its strength and stability.
🦠 Dry rot is like a fungus that can spread if not treated.
🦠 Repairing extensive dry rot can be costly.
🦠 The fungus causing dry rot can affect indoor air quality.
🦠 Dry rot can cause discoloration and deterioration of wood.

So what are we looking at here?

❌ Possible future structural damage.
❌ Respiratory and other health problems from mold spores.
❌ An infection of the home.

Why does dry rot happen?

Dry rot loves dark, poorly ventilated, and wet places, so if there's a lot of water around, it can grow.

For example.

A common problem we see is bad caulking around windows or doors. Water sneaks in, and that water causes dry rot in the walls. It’s a leak that you can't see, and over time, causing serious damage.

For homeowners in the Pacific Northwest, dry rot is a very common problem because of the humidity and rainy weather where the fungus thrives.

I will show you how you can spot dry-rotted wood and what you can do about it for minor projects that can save you time, money, and your health.

5 Ways to Tell If You've Got Dry Rot.

  1. A damp, musty odor in wooden areas.
  2. Wood turning darker or developing unusual colors.
  3. Wood feels soft or spongy when touched.
  4. Wood appears cracked, with a shrunken or distorted look.
  5. Visible fungal growth, often with a cotton wool-like appearance.

Here are a few pictures of what dry rot looks like.

a photo of dry rot on a home

The Press Test

If you notice signs of dry rot you could also perform a “press test” to check.

How to Do It: Gently press your thumb or a screwdriver into the wood.
What to Look For: If the wood feels soft, spongy, or easily gives way, it could be a sign of dry rot.
Why It Works: Dry rot weakens the wood, and this test helps you feel for any structural damage.

the press test gif

What To Do If You Have Dry Rot.

  1. Remove the rot. Use a chisel, knife, or similar tool to cut out the rotted wood until you reach solid, healthy wood.
  2. Replace the hole or board with a new piece of wood.
  3. Use caulk to seal any gaps or joints in the repaired area, especially where the wood meets other surfaces to prevent future water infiltration.
  4. Use primer and water-based acrylic paint to seal the wood for long-term protection.
  5. As an optional step, after clean up put fungicide on everything within five feet of the rot.

It’s as easy as 4 simple steps!

Problems like these can be very stressful and frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re in need of a friendly hand don’t hesitate to reach out to your local professional siding contractor.

For Portland, OR, and surrounding area homeowners Sister Siding is here to help.

photo fo a before, during and after of a house with nw siding in the portland metro area
house siding with mold on it

 2) Moisture Is A Breeding Ground For Mold

Similar to dry rot, mold growth occurs in areas with higher moisture levels. Another common issue for those living in the Pacific Northwest.

Mold thrives in areas with poor drainage—areas around your home that are constantly wet. This will cause mold to grow on the siding of your home, creeping up from the home’s foundation.

Here’s how mold affects your home:

🦠 It will stain and ruin the appearance of your siding and other surfaces.
🦠 Mold eats away at materials like wood, making them weaker and less sturdy.
🦠 Mold spores can make you sick!

How To Take Care Of Mold Growth

The first step is to identify and tackle the poor drainage the mold just loves to hang out around. 

Do you have any of the following?:

  • Standing water (e.x., puddles).
  • Soil erosion.
  • Dampness in your basement.
  • Clogged gutters.
  • Consistently wet lawn.
  • Cracks in the foundation.
  • Water stains or damage.

Great news! Once you've sorted out the drainage issue, dealing with mold is simple.

All you need is bleach and water:

  1. Mix one cup of bleach with a gallon of water. 
  2. Spray around a moldy area.
  3. Let it soak.
  4. Scrub the area for extra measure.
  5. Let it dry out.

Watch this quick 2-min video by Kendall Todd to see how it’s done.

foggy and cracked window

3) What To Do About Foggy Or Cracked Windows

You've noticed persistent fog on your windows, and you're probably wondering why. It's actually moisture trapped between the window panes causing it.

This happens because of one of three reasons:

  1. Seal Failure: Moisture may infiltrate due to a compromised seal around the window frame.
  2. Cracked Glass: Cracks or issues with the glass seal can allow moisture to enter.
  3. Improper Installation: Incorrect installation of the window can create gaps for moisture infiltration.

Fogged or cracked windows are more than just a nuisance:

❌ Crack windows compromise your home's security and energy efficiency.
❌ Increased energy bills due to air leaks.
❌ Potential structural damage to the home.

Let's get into why seal failure commonly happens and find the solution.

closeup-shot-wild-windowsill-with-old-window-glass-covered-frosting 1

Why Seal Failure Happens

Improper Installation: If the window isn't sealed properly during installation, it leaves gaps for moisture to enter.

Use of Wrong Caulk: Using the wrong type of caulk, or one that deteriorates quickly, can lead to seal failure.

Caulk Deterioration: Over time, caulk can degrade or peel, allowing moisture to penetrate the window and cause fogging.

How To Fix Foggy Windows from Seal Failure

  • Recaulking: Apply new caulk around the window to prevent further moisture infiltration, though this won't eliminate existing fogging.
  • Glass Replacement: Replace the window glass while resealing around the frame to eliminate fogging, but this isn't a long-term fix.
  • Window Replacement: Opt for a complete window replacement to ensure proper sealing and prevent future fogging.

Living with a bit of condensation between your windows might not seem like a big deal, but the longer you leave it, the more trouble it can cause for your windows and your home.

Foggy windows might just be the tip of the iceberg. You may uncover other issues that make you wonder if it's time for a window replacement over time.

peeling and cracked siding on a house

4) Dealing with Fading or Peeling Paint

Hey there, if you've noticed the paint on your walls or outside is starting to fade or peel, it's time to do something about it. 

Paint can fade or peel for a few reasons:

  1. Sun Exposure: Too much sun can bleach out paint, especially on outside walls.
  2. Moisture: Leaks or dampness can make paint peel like in bathrooms or kitchens.
  3. Poor Preparation: If the surface wasn't prepped right or you used cheap paint, it might not stick well, leading to peeling.

Fading or peeling paint isn't just about looks—it can mean trouble:

A decrease in the value of your home.

Peeling paint can let moisture in, which can cause wood to rot and mold to grow.

❌ Structural damage over time.

How To Take Care Of Faded Or Peeling Paint

To sort out fading or peeling paint:

  • Get rid of any loose paint, sand things down, and use a primer before you repaint.
  • Use the correct type of paint to avoid fading or peeling again (e.x. Acrylic paint for home exterior painting).
  • Fix any leaks or damp spots before you paint over them.

If the problem's big or you're not sure what's going on, it might be worth hiring a professional. They can check things out, tell you what needs doing, and make sure it's done right.

JK paint and contracting team painting a home in portland

Our sister company, JK Paint & Contracting, can help! JK Paint has served Portland and the surrounding areas for over 10 years and has earned a 5-star reputation.

If you need someone to fix your faded or peeling paint problem, contact JK Paint & Contracting.

5) Loose or Damaged Siding, Shingles, & Roofing

What are shingles?

Shingles are the flat, overlapping squares that make up your roof. They're like tiny tiles used to shield your home from rain, snow, and the sun.

Your home’s exterior degrades over time due to extreme weather. Eventually, things like shingles, siding, and roofing can start to loosen or get damaged. 

Here's a simple way to check for these problems:

  • Roof: Look for missing or curled shingles, especially after a storm. Bald spots or dark streaks on the roof can also signal trouble.
  • Siding: Check for cracked, warped, or loose siding panels. Pay attention to areas around windows and doors, where leaks can start.

Damaged roof shingle

damaged-and-cracked-paint-on-wooden-siding

Cracked siding

Damaged siding and roofing let water seep into your home, leading to rot, mold, and expensive repairs.

Cracks Happen, But Warped Siding Is Trouble

There's no easy fix for warped siding other than replacing the sections entirely. However, it's common for damage to occur on one wall or side of your house, so you won't need to replace all of your siding.

Unlike cracks, it creates larger gaps for water to seep in, causing hidden rot and mold. Fixing warped siding is often more complex than a simple crack repair.

What causes warped siding?

Warped siding results from excessive heat, trapped moisture, improper installation, or low-quality materials.

To prevent warped siding we recommend the following:

  1. Regular Inspections: Get your siding inspected by a professional every 1-2 years.
  2. Light Reflectors: For vinyl siding, consider installing light reflectors on windows to prevent sun glare from warping the material.
  3. Proper Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation behind the siding to prevent moisture buildup, a major cause of warping.

How To Take Care Of Damaged Siding, Shingles, & Roofing

For minor issues, you might be able to tackle them yourself. 

Here are some tips:

  • Loose Siding: For a single loose panel, try gently pushing it back in place and securing it with nails or screws (depending on your siding type). Make sure you use the right type and size fasteners.
  • Missing Shingles: Some hardware stores sell individual shingles for minor replacements. However, this is a temporary fix. Extensive missing shingles point to a bigger issue needing professional attention.

While DIY repairs are tempting, for significant damage to siding, shingles, or roofing, it's best to call in a professional.  

Here's why:

  • Safety: Especially for roofs, walking on slanted surfaces can be dangerous. Professionals have the safety gear and experience to handle repairs safely.
  • Expertise: They know the right materials and techniques to fix the problem correctly and ensure a long-lasting repair.
  • Warranty: Many repairs come with warranties, giving you peace of mind.

By taking care of your siding and roofing, you can avoid costly repairs and keep your home safe and dry for years to come.

For any repairs beyond your comfort zone, Sister Siding can help! We offer free consultations, so you can get an estimate and discuss your options with no pressure.

Don’t hesitate to contact our crew if you need professional assistance.

a photo of a rat on a house

6) Handling Pest Infestations

Nobody wants insects, rodents, or other pests setting up camp in their home uninvited. These pests can become a real nuisance and even damage your property.

Here's why you should take action if you spot any unwelcome guests:

❌ Pests can carry germs and bacteria cause sickness.
❌ Rodents love to chew on wires and insulation, while termites can munch through your wooden supports.
❌ It’s uncomfortable sharing your home with unwanted insects or rodents.

Spotting the Signs of Pests

Look out for these clues that might indicate a pest problem:

  • Actual sightings: Seeing live creatures or droppings is a clear giveaway.
  • Strange noises: Scratching sounds in the walls or attic may be a sign.
  • Damage: Gnaw marks on furniture or wires, or tiny holes in walls could be signs of a rodent or insect infestation.

Taking Care of a Pest Problem

caulking a door to stop pest from coming in

The approach depends on the type of pest and the severity of the infestation. 

Here's a two-pronged attack plan:

  1. Take preventative measures:

Seal up entry points: Caulk cracks around windows, doors, and foundations to stop pests from sneaking in.
Keep things clean: Wipe up crumbs and spills to avoid attracting ants and other food-loving pests.
Store food properly: Use airtight containers for dry goods and keep trash cans sealed to avoid attracting critters.

  1. Eliminate existing infestations:

DIY methods: For minor problems, try store-bought traps or bait stations specifically designed for the type of pest you're dealing with.
Call in the professionals: For larger infestations or if you're uncomfortable handling it yourself, hiring a licensed pest control company is the best solution. They have the expertise and tools to safely and effectively eliminate the problem.

By following these tips, you can keep your home pest-free and avoid the health hazards and property damage they can cause.

7) Plugging Leaks & Battling Poor Insulation From Gaps & Cracks

Both leaks and poor insulation can lead to a variety of problems in your home, affecting your comfort, wallet, and even your health. 

They are both the result of many of the issues mentioned above:

  • Leaks: Tiny leaks from roof damage, plumbing woes, or faulty windows can lead to major issues like water damage, mold growth, and even attract unwanted pests.
  • Poor Insulation: Homes with inadequate insulation, especially in attics, walls, or basements, struggle to maintain comfortable temperatures. This translates to higher energy bills, drafts, and uneven temperatures throughout the house.

With issues such as these, that means:

❌ Difficulty for many homeowners to fix themselves.
❌ Possible structural damage from untreated leaks.
❌ Unexpected repairs that drain your wallet.
❌ A decrease in your home’s value.

How To Take Care Of Leaks And Poor Insulation Problems

Leaks and poor insulation can go unnoticed for a long time, causing problems behind the scenes. 

The age of your home (weak spots), settling (cracks), and skipped maintenance (leaks) can cause these problems to linger unnoticed.

Here's how we recommend being proactive against these issues: 

  • Regular inspections: Take some time to regularly check your roof, foundation, and plumbing for any signs of trouble.
  • Consider professional help: For complex leaks or insulation projects, hire a professional who can ensure the job is done right and save you time in the long run.
  • Preventative measures: Sealing gaps around windows and doors, maintaining your roof, and considering insulation upgrades can go a long way in preventing leaks and keeping your home comfortable and energy-efficient.

Bonus Tip: Fiber Cement Siding and Flashing (Pre-2008)

If your home has fiber cement siding (like James Hardie brand) installed before 2008, there's a specific detail to be aware of. Back then, a thin metal flashing (a protective layer) behind the siding panels at the joints wasn't always used. This means those joints were likely sealed with caulk, which needs to be redone frequently and can be less effective in the long run.

brown-house-with-fiber-cement-siding

The good news? There's a fix! Here are your options:

  • Re-siding: We can completely re-side your wall using the proper installation methods, which include flashing behind the joints.
  • Flashing Installation: If a full re-side isn't in your budget, we can also install the missing flashing behind the existing siding panels at the joints. This will eliminate the need for constant caulking.

Knowing this can save you time and money in the long run! If you're unsure about your siding's age or flashing situation, feel free to contact us for a professional inspection.

Don't Wait For Trouble To Happen! Be A Proactive Homeowner.

Surprise home repairs can be a huge headache for all homeowners. If you’re proactive, you can take control and prevent many of these problems before they become major issues.

Early detection and intervention are key!  A small problem you fix today can save you a lot of money and hassle down the road.

Regularly inspect your home's exterior for signs of trouble.

We've covered how to identify and address many of these issues yourself for minor problems. But remember, when it comes to complex repairs or for your peace of mind, don't hesitate to call in a professional.

By being proactive and taking care of your home, you can:

✅ Avoid costly repairs
✅ Protect your home's value
✅ Create a more comfortable and healthy living environment for yourself and your family

sister-siding-crew-working-on-siding-installation-in-the-portland-metro-area

Ready to tackle those exterior projects or need a professional opinion? At Sister Siding, we offer a wide range of services to keep your home looking its best and functioning flawlessly. 

  1. Siding Installation Or Repairs
  2. Roofing 
  3. Windows & Door Services
  4. Exterior & Interior Painting
  5. Deck Installation 

We're your one-stop shop for all your home exterior needs.

Contact Sister Siding today for a free consultation! 

We'll be happy to discuss your project and provide you with a free estimate. Let us help you keep your home safe, comfortable, and beautiful for years to come.

  • russin_admin. (2023, December 23). Cedar Siding types: A comprehensive breakdown. Russin. https://russin.com/a-complete-breakdown-of-cedar-siding-types/