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How should I clean my vinyl siding?

As with anything exposed to the elements, vinyl siding will get dirty. You can maintain its appearance by cleaning with a brush or sponge and a mild cleaning solution at least once a year. Power washing is not recommended because it can damage the finish of the siding.

Although cleaning siding from the top down appears to be the logical method, it should actually be washed from the bottom up to reduce streaking

It is always a good idea to test wash a small inconspicuous area, to ensure the desired result, before completing a larger, highly visible area. Always read labels and follow instructions to protect eyes, skin, and vegetation from cleaning agents.

For hard to remove dirt, wipe the siding using a solution of:
1/2 cup of laundry detergent (i.e. Tide)
1/2 cup of Trisodiumphosphate (i.e. Soilex)
1 gallon of water

If mildew is a problem, add 1 quart of liquid laundry bleach to this solution.

In addition to the normal build up of dirt, you may also have a problem with staining. If so, follow these steps:

Staining agents:Light oils and grease, grease, caulking compounds, wax, crayons, asphalt, tar, etc.
Cleaning agents:Solvents - Mineral spirits V.M.P., Naphtha auto tar remover.
Preparation:Remove excess with plastic or wood scraper.
Cleaning method:Use soft cloth to apply mineral spirits. Avoid polishing stained area by using too much pressure. Rinse.
Staining agents:Markers, nail polish, lipstick, gum and chalking.
Cleaning agents:Cleaning fluid (Trichloroethylene)
Preparation:Remove excess with plastic or wood scraper. Chill gum to remove excess.
Cleaning method:Use soft cloth to apply mineral spirits. Avoid polishing stained area by using too much pressure. Rinse.
Staining agents:Rust stains.
Cleaning agents:Oxalic acid (auto radiator cleaner).
Preparation:Make solution of 1 tablespoon of oxalic acid crystals to 1 cup warm water.
Cleaning method:Apply oxalic acid solution with soft brush, wipe with damp cloth, and then flush with clean water.
Staining agents:Stubborn stains.
Cleaning agents:Abrasive type cleaner, scouring pads, or fine sandpaper.
Preparation:First try the three procedures above.
Cleaning method:Wet the stain first. Rub with cleaning agent in direction of wood grain. Do not remove more material than 
is absolutely necessary. Rinse.

What causes condensation and how can I control it?

Moisture is present in the air in all homes, but when it becomes excessive it can cause condensation. Condensation is water that forms when warm, moist air hits cooler surfaces – such as windows, cold-water pipes or bathroom wall and mirrors. Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air. Excessive humidity is usually the cause of condensation in homes.

When humidity levels in your home are too high relative to outdoor temperatures, condensation can form on cool surfaces such as windows. The windows are not the cause of the condensation, but they can be one of the first places where you notice it. Windows and doors are the coolest interior surfaces of your home that you can see, but if surface condensation is occurring on windows or doors it is also quite possible that there is condensation in the wall cavities as well.

Condensation can cause wood rot, and excess humidity can also cause paint to peel or result in mold and mildew, so you should address a high humidity issue quickly before it results in permanent damage.

Moisture in the home comes from a number of sources: cooking, dishwashers, self-defrosting refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers, showers, saunas, fish tanks, houseplants, fire wood, even the breath of people and animals. There are steps you can take to control humidity levels in your home.

  1. Make sure your furnace is in proper working order and is serviced regularly.
  2. Turn on exhaust fans when cooking and bathing. Make sure that they vent outside. If there are no fans, close the door and open a window briefly, until the room clears.
  3. Make sure that dryers vent to the outside and that there are no holes or leaks in the exhaust pipe.
  4. Make sure that louvers and vents for attics and crawl spaces are open, adequately sized, and provide cross ventilation.
  5. Make sure when drapes are closed they do not fit tight to the window or floor. Air should be able to circulate under and around the window treatments to prevent build up of cold air in front of the window.
  6. Ensure that cold air returns are open and unblocked to allow air to circulate freely throughout the house.
  7. Be sure that chimneys are not clogged.
  8. Store firewood outside or in the garage.

In the winter you may need to take additional steps to reduce the humidity in your home and increase airflow over cool surfaces:

  1. Closely monitor the furnace humidifier to ensure that settings are at the recommended levels (see the chart below). When the humidity level is too high, turn the humidifier off, shut off the water supply, and empty the humidifier pan.
  2. Run exhaust fans for kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms for longer periods.
  3. Avoid hanging wet clothes inside.
  4. Remove pans of water from heat registers.
  5. Remove plants from window ledges and bay or bow window seats.
  6. Increase airflow over window glass by removing inside screens, and opening window coverings – such as blinds, shades, drapes, and curtains during daylight hours.
  7. Remove air deflectors from registers under windows.
  8. Ensure that the sump pump hole is covered.
  9. Open a door or window for several minutes each day to refresh the inside air.
  10. Keep bedroom doors open, even if only a little, while sleeping. Alternatively, ensure that there is a gap at the bottom of the door to allow air movement.
  11. Leaving the fireplace damper open, or lighting a fire, will increase ventilation and improve the rate of air exchange.
  12. Keep all rooms, even if unoccupied, heated. All rooms should be heated to a minimum of 10°C (50°F), as condensation will often occur in unheated rooms.

It is important to realize that some condensation experienced early in the heating season may simply go away without you having to take any action. In the summer months the building materials and furnishing in your home absorb a substantial amount of moisture. When the furnace comes on these materials start to dry out, temporarily adding extra moisture to the air. The resulting condensation usually disappears on its own.

What about using a dehumidifier?
A dehumidifier can only reduce the relative humidity to about 60%, which is fine in summer when the outdoor humidity is around 90%, but would make your walls drip in cold weather. There is no place in Canada where a home can be maintained at this humidity level without serious condensation problems. In cold weather the relative humidity should not be over 40%.

Recommended Indoor Relative Humidity
The table below shows recommended indoor relative humidity levels vs. outside air temperature for acceptable comfort. If moisture can be reduced to these levels, it may help cure troublesome surface condensation problems.

Outside Air TemperatureIndoor Relative Humidity at 21°C
With Double Glazing
-29°C or belowNot over 15%
-28°C to -23°CNot over 20%
-22°C to -17°CNot over 25%
-16°C to -12°CNot over 30%
-11°C to  - 6°CNot over 40%

What do I need to know about maintaining caulking and weatherstripping?


To prevent the elements (rain, snow, wind, even dust and dirt particles) from being unwanted guests in your home, inspect windows, doors, exhaust vents, skylights, and other openings yearly. You should examine caulking for shrinkage (has it peeled away?) and flexibility (is it dry, cracked or crumbling?), and weatherstrip for obvious signs of wear (flattened or non-existent pile and torn or cracked rubber). Addressing any problems you discover could mean lower heating and cooling costs.

Although the idea of recaulking around windows, doors, etc. may seem intimidating, with sufficient practice and a high-quality sealant and caulking gun, it needn`t be. There are many types of exterior caulking on the market, but THERMOPLASTIC, available in a full range of colours, is an excellent choice. It adheres to all exterior surfaces including vinyl, aluminum and brick, and "skins over" allowing it to remain pliable.

Before you begin you must remove all deteriorated caulking and foreign matter, including surface dirt, dust, loose particles, or other contaminants, which may inhibit adhesion. Be sure to read the safety precautions on the sealant tube. To apply new caulking cut the plastic tip of the tube on a 90° angle, a little narrower than the width of the desired joint. Use a caulking gun and apply using even pressure. Hold the gun at a 45° angle from the joint. Ensure the sealant comes in contact with both sides of the joint by at least 3mm (1/8") and that the surface of the joint has a convex shape. Clean up any drips immediately.



Weatherstrip is more than just the rubber strip that runs across the bottom of your exterior doors – it can also be found running up the latch side, along the header and down the hinge side of door jambs or frames: on window sashes, and, in some cases, window sills and side jambs. Door jambs that house steel doors typically feature magnetic and compression weatherstrip (door jambs for wood and fiberglass doors use compression only), while storm doors use a pile weatherstrip, and windows have both pile and bulb types. Compression weatherstrip is a vinyl wrapped foam material, pile is like a soft brush cut, and bulb style is a rubber tube.

When replacing window weatherstrip, be sure to replace it with the type and style originally used. This holds true for steel doors and door jambs as well, unless what is currently in use isn`t sufficient. Often times, a warped steel door slab or doorframe, or a build up of paint, hinders magnetic weatherstrip`s ability to adhere. A switch to compression weatherstrip may help.

For further information regarding caulking and weatherstripping, contact an Aluminum Associates sales representative at 519-453-6400 or visit our 1801 Trafalgar St. showroom.

If you have a question about any of the products that we sell, if you`d like to receive a free estimate for professional installation, or ask about a project you`re going to install yourself, don`t hesitate to contact us – we`re happy to help. You can speak to a sales representative in our showroom at 1801 Trafalgar St. East, call us at 519-453-6400, or click here to e-mail us.