Replacing a home’s siding may not be at the top of most homeowner’s to-do lists. In fact, unless you have the money to spend on curb appeal, not many homeowners even think to replace their siding. But perhaps we should.
After all, siding does wear out. It cracks. It breaks. It gets old. Eventually it begins to leak; and when that happens it may already be too late to prevent other major (and potentially expensive) repairs.
But how do you know when a home needs new siding? We'll explain the top five signs your siding might need an overhaul.
1 – High Heating and Cooling Bills
When a home’s heating or cooling costs go through the roof (so to speak), that can be a sure sign that a home is in need of new siding. Naturally it is important to rule out a bad or leaking roof or lack of attic insulation as the culprit, but heating or cooling costs that are not in line with those of neighbors with similar structures is an indication that something is seriously flawed with a home’s exterior wall insulation.
Poorly performing siding and low grade wall insulation can be a prime cause for excess heating and cooling bills.
2 – Rotting or Warping
Take some time to do a thorough visual inspection of a home’s siding. Take a relatively sharp object, such as a screwdriver, along on the inspection. Look specifically for warped siding or for rotting boards or other damage to siding material. Poke under any siding that has warped to discover how solid the under layer is. If the layer under a home’s siding has begun to rot or become soft, that is a sure sign that the home’s siding is due for immediate replacement.
3 – Cracked or Loose Siding
If only one or two boards are cracked or have come loose after a storm, this may not be cause for great alarm. It may be possible for a homeowner to remove one or two bad pieces of siding and replace them. Always be sure to check any layers underneath broken or cracked siding to make certain that there has not been additional, and possibly extensive, damage that will need to be repaired.
If large sections of the siding show signs of cracking, or if large numbers of siding pieces are loose, this can indicate severe problems that may require professional services.
4 – Peeling Paint or Loose Wallpaper Inside the Home
It may not be immediately obvious to all homeowners, but peeling paint or wallpaper that is pulling away from a wall inside of a home can be symptomatic of faulty siding. Bad siding allows moisture to seep its way underneath the siding where it can percolate through wallboard and eventually cause significant damage to the interior walls of a home.
5 – Fungus, Mold, or Mildew
Any type of growth such as fungus, mold, or mildew on a home’s siding, especially at or near seams in the siding, may indicate that water is penetrating it and being held inside the wall, where it is slowly released once again, causing unwanted growth. While not all signs of fungus, mold, or mildew on siding is a cause for alarm, such growth should be cause to investigate further.
6 – Severely Faded Siding
Why should color fading be a cause for concern over a home’s siding? Because nothing lasts forever, and that includes siding. All siding has a life expectancy. Most siding is formulated to hold its color for only as long as the rating of the siding itself. If siding is so old that the color has faded, then that should tell the homeowner that the effective waterproofing of the siding may have also run its course. Faded color may not prove that a siding is no longer viable, but it is a good indication to watch for.
7 – Bubbles in the Siding
One almost certain sign that a home needs new siding is the presence of bubbles just under the surface of the siding. Bubbles are an almost certain indication that water has become trapped. Any indication of water trapped on or under the siding is an immediate red flag. The one thing that siding is meant to do is to keep moisture away from the walls under the siding.
8 – Dry Rot
Tapping on siding with the handle of a screwdriver can reveal dry rot problems before they become noticeable to the naked eye. Dry rot begins below the surface of the siding and eats away the main body of the siding, basically leaving just the top layer of the siding intact. It is possible for the siding to look quite good even when the bulk of the material has rotted away.
Tapping on the surface of the siding with the handle of a screwdriver will reveal weak spots of dry rot, and pieces of siding which suffer from dry rot must be removed immediately and replaced. Extensive dry rot will require the entire home to be re-sided.
Homeowners who are not experienced at replacing siding may be better off hiring professionals to do the job.