Dry_After_Flood

How to Drain and Dry a Water-Damaged Home

If you’re like many of your customers, you’re probably still cleaning up after last week’s storms. In the past week, we’ve scheduled over thirty appointments for our basement waterproofing system, B-Dry and over forty appointments for Gutter Helmet. Unfortunately, some customers moved too slowly and sustained water damage to their homes. They’re now tasked with the arduous process of draining and drying their interior. If you’re in the same boat (but hopefully not literally), we’re here to help. Here’s some tips for reducing moisture in your home:

Draining Moisture from Your Home

  • Sump Pump: A sump pump will continuously remove water from your basement via hose or pipe. A sump pump is especially useful for removing standing water. You can rent a sump pump for about $44/day, or purchase one for $100 or more.
  • Wet/Dry Vacuum: A wet/dry vacuum is used just like a traditional vacuum, except it has the ability to suck up moisture and wetness. This is a great tool for removing water from carpets and rugs.
  • Absorb moisture: Absorb moisture with a desiccant. A desiccant is a drying solvent that naturally absorbs and retains moisture. These products are often made from silica, calcium oxide, or clay. Some desiccants change colors to indicate moisture-saturation levels.

Drying Up Humidity in Your Home

  • Dehumidifier: A dehumidifier removes water vapor from the air, leaving your home cool and dry. Make sure to shut windows and doors when using a dehumidifier to avoid bringing more moisture inside.
  • Open Doors & Windows: Don’t underestimate the power of air circulation. Sometimes all it takes to dry something out is time and a good breeze. Skip this step if it is particularly humid outside your home.
  • Hot and Cold Method: This neat trick comes from Jeffery Gross, a home restoration professional:

    “Warm air will hold more moisture than cooler air,” Mr. Gross said. So a homeowner can close all doors and windows and run the air-conditioning. Once the house has cooled and the air is dry, the air-conditioning should be turned off and the heat turned on. When the temperature has reached, say, 80 degrees or so, the heat should be turned off and the air-conditioning turned back on until all the warm air has been removed. The cycle should be repeated until the house is dry.”


Before you begin restoring your home, make sure your home is safe to occupy- especially if your home has been in a flood. Make sure that the water that has entered your home has not been contaminated with sewage or debris. Check that your electrical systems haven’t come in contact with any standing water. After you’ve ensured your safety, call your homeowners insurance company. Depending on your policy, you may be covered for flooding due to storms, backed-up city sewers and storm drains or burst pipes.

Make sure your home never becomes soggy again by waterproofing your basement and ensuring your home has proper drainage. Our basement waterproofing system B-Dry works by protecting the five most common locations water enters your home. With Gutter Helmet, your gutters will never clog and spill rainwater into your yard. Call us at (309) 717-0105 or fill out this form to schedule your free in-home estimate today.

Forced_Entry

Secure Your Home Against Forced Entry

As the weather heats up and people begin to enjoy the outdoors again, so do the criminals. Expert criminologists have found a link between hot weather and violent crime. Whether these bad guys are irritable from the heat or just opportunists taking advantage of an empty home, you don’t want them on your property. You can prevent a forced entry before it even happens. These tested crime-prevention strategies increase your home surveillance and restrict the access of criminals.

Get a Steel Entry Door

A few months ago, this woman posted a security tip from her father to replace the door-lock screws that came with her apartment with 4-inch screws. The idea is that if a burglar tries to make a forced entry into her home, the they will make lots of noise trying to kick her door down. The noise will make the intruder nervous about being caught and they will move on to an easier target. We love the concern this father has for his daughter’s safety! If you own your home and don’t have to worry about landlords, you can take this idea one step further and get a steel entry door. Steel entry doors are a significant security improvement over hollow or wooden-core doors. It’s unlikely that the steel entry door will be kicked in, and it’s extremely hard to bend.

Get it here!

Our Paragon Steel Entry Doors are dipped in 22-gauge steel for exceptional strength and their deadlocks are rated #1 in security by the American National Standards Institute. This steel door also features a steel lock reinforcement plate on single doors with wood jambs for added protection against forced entry. Finally, the ball-bearing hinges are engineered to eliminate door sagging and increase security. The best part about this door is that you don’t have to sacrifice style for security. This steel entry door comes in 8 different woodgrain options and 21 paint finishes.

Invest in Durable Windows

When doors fail, intruders turn to windows for a quick and easy entry. Windows security is often overlooked by homeowners chasing the next high-tech digital security trend. However, upgrading your windows can be just as effective and cheaper than installing an entire security system. When you’re looking for replacement windows, keep an eye out for windows with tempered glass or laminated glass. Both of these glass options are more difficult to crack than traditional glass panes. An obvious window feature to consider is your window locks. Make sure they’re durable and visible from the outside of your home. Don’t forget to sure up security on your top floor windows as well. Burglars know that most homeowners leave these windows vulnerable, and may bring a ladder to make an easy forced entry.

Forced Entry

Get it here!

Our Preservation Replacement Windows come with heavy-duty locking and operating hardware. There are dual locks on all windows 29″ or wider. If somebody does try to break into your home, we offer a Lifetime Limited Transferable Warranty that includes glass breakage. However, it’s doubtful you’ll ever see broken glass with these windows because Preservation uses double strength glass. You can choose to order your windows with tempered glass as well. Plus, we have sealed double pane and triple pane glass options that tend to make a loud “popping” sound when broken. Noise is never an intruder’s best friend.

Keep Landscaping at a Minimum

Try not to have an abundance of large trees and bushes on your property. Intruders love tall trees and bushes because they are an easy spot to hide in and they conceal the view to your front door as they try to break it down. If you do plant trees, plant them far enough away from the home that nobody can use the tree to gain access to the second floor. For added security, try planting thorny bushes under first-floor windows. Criminals looking for an easy target won’t want to climb through a rose bush to gain access to your home.

Add Fencing to Your Yard

Fencing improves your home security for obvious reasons. If an intruder can’t get through a strong and tall fence, it’ll be pretty difficult for them to rob your home. Even decorative fencing and railing can improve your home’s security. Decorative fencing may be easy to climb over, but it will make a getaway more complicated for a burglar. If an intruder is looking for an easy target, fencing may be enough to discourage them from choosing your home. Don’t forget fencing on the sides of your home and in your backyard too. If you’re building a new deck this summer, consider adding railing to deter a forced entry into your home. We recommend our Fiberon Railing because they have great lighting products. Add post side lights to your deck for extra surveillance of your exterior.

 

storm damage windows

Windows and Doors Storm Damage | Avoid Illinois Storm Damage

With Illinois’ brutal storms, it’s possible for windows to take on storm damage and tornado damage even with protective storm shutters. Damaged windows can be especially hazardous because they often result in broken glass. During a severe storm, keep yourself and your family away from windows and broken glass by taking harbor in an interior room. After a storm, check for these signs of window damage:

  • The most obvious sign will be a shattered window. You’ll probably see a big pile of broken shards of glass on your floor and notice something is wrong.
  • Check for cracks or holes in your window panes. If any glass has become damaged, board up broken windows until they can be fixed.
  • Make sure your window frame hasn’t become damaged during the storm.
  • Many homeowners forget about their glass doors when checking for storm damage. Glass patio doors can take on the storm damage just like your windows.
  • Doors can take on impact from flying debris during a storm. Check exterior doors for scratches, dents, and other signs of a high-velocity impact.

Prepare for the next storm:

Some very practical people may tell you to simply replace all of your windows and doors with storm windows and doors. While this idea is functional, it won’t look very pretty on your home. Our Paragon entry doors come with the Guardian Weather Barrier System, which protects your door from air and water leakage. Together, the door jamb, threshold and astragal (the seal between doors) discourages rot and insects as well as increases the structural load your home can withstand. Our Preservation Windows are tested to withstand a driving water spray of 5 gallons per hour per square foot at simulated wind speeds over 57 mph. They can also withstand structural load conditions with wind speed over 190 mph- the equivalent of a EF4 Tornado. Illinois has already experienced an F3 tornado in Ottowa this year.


After you’ve checked for storm damage, your next step is to call your insurance agency. Depending on your homeowners insurance policy, replacement siding may be covered. Cramer Siding and Window will work directly with your insurance company to review and negotiate the details of your claim to make this process as easy and simple for you as possible. We will serve as your advocate when dealing with your insurance carrier. This is a task we take seriously to help ensure you are getting the best possible products, workmanship, and overall outcome for your project.

Storm Damage

Siding Storm Damage | Avoid Illinois Storm Damage

Siding, stucco and brick are also susceptible to storm damage. As a rule of thumb, older and cheaper siding is more likely to feel the affects of a severe Illinois storm. Look out for these common types of exterior damage:

  • Check for splits or cracks that run parallel to your siding. Wind uplifts your siding and puts an immense force on your exterior during a storm, resulting in storm damage. Be sure to check at different times of the day, as different light environments can make damages easier to spot.
  • Fast-flying debris can cause chipping or dents to appear in your exterior. Your exterior is most vulnerable at the bottom of a siding panel where the siding is least flexible. These damages are easier to see from below looking upwards.
  • Holes in your siding can really make your exterior look bad. If you see them, your exterior likely took a bad hit from some flying debris or hail. It can be tempting to ignore a small hole. Even the tiniest holes allow moisture to enter your home, which cause rotting framework and mold. Illinois homes are especially susceptible to this type of storm damage because the state experiences a large volume of tornados.
  • If you have a stucco exterior, holes can be a big problem. Call a professional immediately if you find one, even if it doesn’t seem like a large hole.

Prepare for the next storm:
Storm Damage Siding

There are two great options for replacement vinyl siding that can stand up to a storm. The first is Preservation High-Performance Siding. Everything about this siding is designed for durability, from it’s double-thick nail hem and advanced locking channel to it’s sure-grip bottom lock tabs. This siding has been tested to ensure it can stand up to the force of a Category 5 hurricane wind. For inland Illinois residents, that’s the wind-speed equivalent of an EF3 tornado! The next step up would be Preservation Integra Siding with ClimaShield Thermal Support System. This siding has a high-density, waterproof skin and a weather seal around each panel. If moisture does happen to get under your siding, a diamond groove drainage plane will direct moisture away from your interior. Plus, it has an impact resistance rating five times higher than that of ordinary vinyl siding.


After you’ve checked for storm damage, your next step is to call your insurance agency. Depending on your homeowners insurance policy, replacement siding may be covered. Cramer Siding and Window will work directly with your insurance company to review and negotiate the details of your claim to make this process as easy and simple for you as possible. We will serve as your advocate when dealing with your insurance carrier. This is a task we take seriously to help ensure you are getting the best possible products, workmanship, and overall outcome for your project.

Illinois Replacement Roofing

Roofing Storm Damage | Avoid Illinois Storm Damage

Roofing Storm Damage Checklist

Your roof is the most likely part of your house to take on storm damage during severe weather. Hail, wind, trees and debris can seriously degrade the functionality of your roof in just one night. In Illinois, we have to be particularly cautious about wind damage during tornado season. It can be tempting to look the other way when we find a missing shingle. How important can a single shingle be?! These parts aren’t just cosmetic- they’re integral to the function of your roof. Roofing systems can’t protect your home like they’re supposed to without all of their parts. That’s why it’s important to check everything is still in place after the storm passes. Here is how to conduct your own roofing inspection after a storm:

  • Start by looking for signs of storm damage from the ground. During high winds, pieces of roofing fall off your roof and into your yard. Scan your roof for missing shingles, metal fascia or metal chimney pieces. It’s common for pieces of your roof to become dislodged where your roof meets your exterior walls. Do NOT climb on your roof to check for damage. Leave that to the professionals.
  • Next, check your attic for signs of leaking or water damage. Water damage is easily observed in the form of water stains on your ceilings and walls. If you find some, set out containers to contain the leak and call a professional immediately. You may also want to set up a dehumidifier to minimize the spread of mold.
  • Hopefully you’ll notice if a tree has fallen onto your home! But sometimes it’s hard to tell how much real damage has been done. It’s recommended that you stay out of your home until a professional can come check whether any structural damage occurred. If it has, you’ll likely need to call a general contractor instead of a professional roofer for repairs.
Replacement Roofing Illinois

GAF Timberline HD Shingles | Birchwood

Prepare for the next storm:

Maybe you should have bought some higher-quality roofing. Hindsight’s always 20/20! Now that you need replacement roofing, it’s the perfect time for an upgrade. GAF Timberline HD Shingles have Advanced Protection Shingle Technology. You won’t find a single shingle that’s as tough and flexible with outstanding wind uplift resistance and fire resistance. These shingles can stand up to 130 mph winds. That means during one of Illinois tornado seasons, your shingle can hold on during an EF2 twister! You’re unlikely to take on storm damage again, but if you’re concerned we offer a Gold Pledge Warranty for our replacement roofing. This is a lifetime warranty that covers your whole roofing system- not just your shingles. When somebody else buys your home, the warranty is transferable for free.


After you’ve checked for storm damage, your next step is to call your insurance agency. Depending on your homeowners insurance policy, replacement roofing may be covered. Peoria Siding and Window will work directly with your insurance company to review and negotiate the details of your claim to make this process as easy and simple for you as possible. Serving as your advocate when dealing with your insurance carrier is something we take seriously to help ensure you are getting the best possible products, workmanship, and overall outcome for your project.

Illinois Weather

Best Window Styles for Illinois Weather

Champaign, Illinois is known for its erratic weather, gusty winds and fierce storms. That’s why windows in Illinois have to be durable enough to stand up to a beating. If you’re shopping for new windows, consider these options:

Best Window Styles for Illinois:

Casement windows are best-suited for Illinois homes. These windows are hinged at the side and open outward. Experts recommend casement windows for windy environments because they stand up well to blustery conditions. Casement windows can also help you use the wind to cool your home in the summer. During hot days, they can be opened outward to catch a breeze and draw moving air indoors to provide extra ventilation.

If you live in Illinois, it’s likely you live near farmland. Nearly 75% of Illinois’ total land area is used for agriculture. Illinoisans that live near farmland understand how common farming practices can spread dust, making easy-to-clean windows a necessity. Our Preservation Casement Windows have tilt-in top and bottom sashes so that you can clean both sides of the window pane from inside your home. Now, cleaning your windows will be a breeze (pun intended).

Best Window Glass for Illinois:

Replacement Windows Illinois

When it comes to glass, make insulation a top priority. The best-insulating windows are double or triple-paned and feature low-E glass. Windows with more than one window pane have air space between the multiple panes of glass that prevents the glass from touching and conducting thermal energy. These great features can reduce your home’s heat loss by 30-50% during cold winters.

Gas-filled windows will greatly increase your home’s energy efficiency. Gas-filled windows are often filled with Argon or Krypton gas, which are non-harmful and occur naturally in the earth’s atmosphere. These gases are denser than air and conduct less thermal energy than air. One advantage of gas-filled windows is that they don’t cause drafts like traditional windows do, and their interior glass isn’t cold to the touch. This can make living in Illinois during the winter a lot more comfortable.

Cramer Siding & Window has a variety of high-performing glass packages, including a Low-E, double-paned, Argon-filled glass package or a triple-paned, Krypton-filled glass package.

Best Window Materials for Illinois:

The best window material for Illinois is vinyl because it is energy efficient and affordable. The worst window materials for Illinois are wood and aluminum. Wood windows tend to warp in humid environments and rapid temperature changes. Aluminum is not recommended because it conducts too much thermal energy, making it a bad insulator. 

Cramer Siding & Window offers Energy Star-certified Preservation Vinyl windows. Most vinyl windows only come in white or tan. However, our Preservation Vinyl windows come in 9 different color and wood grain options.

If you’re thinking of replacing your old windows but don’t know where to start, fill out this form for a free, no-obligation project estimate.

Contractor Scams

Spot Contractor Scams Before They Happen

You’d like to think the best of people, but being too trustworthy can leave you vulnerable to contractor scams. Recently, a woman in Vanderburgh, Indiana was tricked into letting a pair of supposed “contractors” fix a leak, free of charge. When she let the pair into her home, they stole the jewelry from her bedroom.

“Homeowners can get ripped-off in a number of ways,” says Steve J. Bernas, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The projects often carry a hefty price tag and it’s very important that consumers know who they are dealing with.”

Use these tips from the Better Business Bureau to make sure you’re always getting a reputable and trustworthy contractor.

Your contractor says: “I’m going to need a 50% deposit to get started.”

It’s normal for contractors to ask for an up-front payment before they begin a job. It ensures that you have the money to complete the project and that you’re committed to moving forward. What’s not normal is your contractor asking for more than 1/3 of the project cost in advanced payments. If you give your contractor more than ⅓ of the job in advance, you risk your contractor doing sub-par work or skipping out on the job completely. 

At Cramer Siding & Window, it’s typical for salespeople to ask for up to 1/3 of the project cost as a down-payment. We would never take advantage of our customers and our salespeople follow strict guidelines on what types of payments they can request.

Your contractor says: “We don’t need to put everything in the contract. Just take my word for it.”

You and your contractor discuss the details of your project and you’re getting along great. Your contractor is agreeing to all if your ideas and even making suggestions for add-ons! Since you’re communicating so well, you assume it doesn’t matter if not everything makes it into the written contract because you “have an understanding.” This is where you get taken advantage of. You find that the details you thought you had agreed upon aren’t being built. Your contractor tells you that those features weren’t included in the written price, and that to finish the project you’ll need to make additional payments.

Cramer Siding & Window prides itself on making sure our customers experience no cost overruns. We write new contracts for all project updates, and you will never pay more than what’s stated in our contract. When you work with us, you’ll know exactly what you’re going to get and exactly what it will cost.

Your contractor says: “I can give you a cheaper price without a building permit.”

You are legally required to get a building permit for any large construction projects so that local officials can visit the project site to make sure the work meets safety requirements.

Instead, your contractor scams you by saying that he can quote you a cheaper price if you look the other way or apply for a homeowners permit. A lower price may sound good, but it means that your contractor has no obligation to meet those safety requirements. Even worse, if you went for the homeowners permit you are legally responsible to make sure your property is up to code when the inspector comes to visit.

At Cramer Siding & Window, we make it our priority to ensure that all of our installers are expertly trained and current on all of their certifications.

Your contractor says: “We ran into an unexpected problem.”

You and your contractor have already signed a contract and the project has begun. Before the project can be completed, your contractor tells you that they found some problems and the price you set together has grown substantially. Common “problems” include structural defects, termite damage or unavoidable design changes. In many cases, these problems may be legitimate. However, you should still be cautious of contractor scams that are designed to exploit your fears.

Your contractor says: “I just finished a job at your neighbor’s place and I have some extra materials…”

In this contractor scam, an unknown contractor knocks on your door and tells you they’ve just finished a project nearby. They have some extra materials (like wet cement) that can’t be stored. Instead of wasting it, they want to re-pave your driveway on the spot for a fraction of their normal price. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This deal is risky because you know nothing about the company and haven’t had time to check their references. Next year when your driveway starts cracking, they’ll be nowhere to be found.


Always work with professional installers rather than amateurs to get the job done right. Check references compulsively. Cramer Siding & Window is unique in that we employ all of our installers instead of sub-contracting to ensure we can control the quality of our services. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and strive for the most transparent policies in the industry. Don’t get duped by contractor scams. If you’d like to work with trustworthy professionals on your next project, fill out a free project estimate form here.