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April 2019 – Newsletter

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Happy Earth Day from Fichtner Services

THINKING ABOUT
GOING SOLAR?

Solar energy is one of the fastest growing types of alternative energy resources. More homeowners are installing solar roofs to reduce energy costs and to lessen their impact on the environment. It’s important to understand some basics about solar roofs, such as how installation works, who can have solar panels installed and the benefits for choosing to go solar. Another really important thing to consider is the roof below the panels.  If you are considering installing solar panels, you may be interested in the following information from Colin Gload, one of the co-founders of Lumina Solar.

Q and A with Lumina Solar!

Would Solar Panels Work on My Roof?

An ideal roof for solar is a roof that faces south, with little to no shade.   While that is ideal, most customers are not perfectly south, and most have at least a little bit of shade.   As long as the house is not fully shaded, and there is enough available roof space to put panels, we will usually be able to come up with a solution for you.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

This is a great question, and as you can imagine probably one we get asked the most.  It is a common misconception that people need to shell out $20-30k to put solar on your roof when really that isn’t the case.  You certainly can pay cash to buy your system, but around 80% of our customers go solar with nothing out of pocket.  This is done through either a PPA/Lease arrangement or through a $0 down loan option.  In either scenario, you are replacing your high electric bill with clean energy, and getting a more consistent and lower payment with the solar.  If you choose to buy a system, there are some great incentives available to help with the cost.

How Much Will I Save on My Energy Bills?

The savings are going to differ depending on the site quality, and the offering the customer chooses, but typically we can show 20-30% savings.  One of the things to consider is not just the long term savings, but the savings over 10, 15, or 20 years.  Utility rates are continuing to climb higher, and customers that go solar save money from day one but also know exactly what they will be paying for power in the long run.  This predictability and control are extremely valuable to people who switch to solar.   

What Do I Need To Do To Prepare for Installation?

At Lumina Solar, we handle the whole process start to finish for you.  Step 1 is doing a full site survey of the home.  The two biggest things we look for are the roof condition and the electrical setup.   If the roof isn’t in great condition, we typically recommend getting a roof looked at by someone such as Fichtner to get a quote for replacement.  You are putting on solar panels that will be operational for 25+ years, so having a new roof is a smart move.  In terms of electrical, sometimes we run into old breaker boxes that we need to replace, or need some work. That electrical work can often times be rolled into the project.

What’s Ahead in the Future of Solar?   

Over the next decade, we are going to continue to see the shift to renewable energy, and more specifically distributed solar.  It is the smart thing to do, not only for the environment but for long term cost stability.   There are still some great incentives being offered by the Federal Government, the State of Maryland, and also some counties as well.   On top of this, we are excited to start offering battery back-up solutions and EV charging units with our solar installations as well.  The future is solar, give us a call at Lumina for a free evaluation!

Have You Been Thinking
About Going Solar?

We’ve now collaborated with Lumina Solar for several recent projects and highly recommend their services.  There are many things that need to go into installing solar panels – and starting with a healthy roof is step one.

Lumina Solar is incorporating the newest technology, and best financing in the industry in order to help homeowners go solar. Their team has 50+ years of combined solar experience, and makes the process of going solar easy!

Visit LuminaSolar.com

Fichtner Services Wins The 2019 Capital Reader's Choice Award!

MEET THE MARCH 2019
REFERRAL PROGRAM WINNER

Thank You and Congratulations go out to Mrs. Lois Tuwiner of Riva!

Mrs. Tuwiner referred 4 of her neighbors to us and she was randomly chosen to be our March Referral Program winner! She is pictured here in front of one of her beautiful gardens holding her prize, a new iPad! We always appreciate receiving the highest compliments any company can get – referrals from our happy customers!

Here is what Mrs. Tuwiner has to say about us, “I felt comfortable referring Fichtner for several reasons. The company is responsive and they do good work. Workers are polite and have excellent work ethic. We have had good history with the company. I choose Fichtner because we have gotten outstanding service and workmanship from the company. They put a roof on our old house in Upper Marlboro and in Annapolis. I was so impressed with the drone picture Scott took which helped me to understand the recent problem with the chimney.”

WANT TO WIN A COOLER?

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Fichtner Services Awarded Best Of Houzz

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Over 40 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building,
Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World

Fichtner Services has won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The Annapolis-based contractor for exterior home improvements was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2017. A “Best Of Houzz 2018” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“The Houzz community selected a phenomenal group of Best of Houzz 2018 award winners, so this year’s recipients should be very proud,” said Liza Hausman, Vice President of Industry Marketing at Houzz. “Best of Houzz winners represent some of the most talented and customer-focused professionals in our industry, and we are extremely pleased to give them both this recognition and a platform on which to showcase their expertise.”

6 Signs Your Roof Needs Replacing

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It is vital to know the tell-tale warning signs of a roof that’s at the end of its run. If you experience any of the following issues, it’s more than likely that your roof needs major repairs or a total replacement. This may sound like a bad thing, but when you have a team of trusted roofing experts like you’ll find at Fichtner Services working with you to find an affordable and stress-free solution, taking care of any roofing problems you might have is a breeze.

  1. CURLED & BUCKLED SHINGLES: Visibly distorted shingles are a clear signal that your roof has some age under its belt. Buckled shingles happen due to moisture in the attic space below that forces nails to push upwards and out of the roof’s exterior. This situation can leave your home exposed to the elements as well as making the shingles more susceptible to blowing off during strong winds.

 

  1. TAR STREAKING & ALGAE FORMATION: Tar streaking and algae growth is caused by pesky bacteria eating through the shingle’s weatherproofing coating. Cheap shingle manufacturing companies often use fillers like limestone to keep the cost of shingles at a minimum. This algae will break down the limestone, resulting in a visible black streak that can lead to leaks if left unattended. Fichtner Services utilizes GAF, America’s #1 selling shingle roofing brand, GAF offers a Lifetime Warranty on ALL of their laminated roofing shingle lines!

  

  1. GRANULES MISSING: Absent granules are a sign that your roof is quickly losing its weatherproofing capabilities. To check to see if you are missing granules, look to your gutters for granule accumulation when you clean them out. You can also check the area around your downspout for granules.

 

  1. MOISTURE & MOLD: If your attic is not properly ventilated warm moist air from your home will rise and get trapped in the attic. This moisture condenses, gathering on the underside of the roof, and causing nails to rust and mold to form. If left long enough, this will lead the plywood to rot out and you’ll have to replace the entire roof.

 

  1. MISSING SHINGLES: Dislodged shingles provide an open path for water, cold air, and pests to enter into your home.

 

 

  1. ICE DAMS: If snow and ice remain for considerable periods of time on your gutters and first few feet of the roof, but melts off faster above, you will most likely encounter ice damming. When the snow melts from above and rolls down into the still frozen blockage, it causes a ponding effect. Be proactive before this causes water to enter your home in the next big blizzard! Adequate attic insulation prevents this uneven warming effect on the different parts of the roof while proper installation of an ice and water shield will prevent this from becoming a problem inside your home. Fichtner Services can handle both for you!

A widespread misconception is that a roof is good for ten or fifteen years. While it’s true that a new roof should last at least that long, if there are construction errors or the builders used sub-par materials, the lifetime of your roof could be much shorter. If you notice any of these signs, don’t hesitate, give Fichtner Services a call.

Fichtner Services is a GAF Master Elite Roofing Contractor. Only the top 3% of roofing contractors nationwide qualify as Master Elite Roofing Contractors. With a GAF Master Elite roofing contractor, you’ll be sure to get high quality professional installation. And only a GAF Master Elite contractor can offer the GAF Lifetime Limited Warranties. 

2017 Angie’s List Super Service Award

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Fichtner Services is proud to announce that it has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award (SSA). This award honors service professionals who have maintained exceptional service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List in 2017.

“The service providers that receive our Angie’s List Super Service Award demonstrate the level of excellence that members have come to expect,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “These pros are top-notch and absolutely deserve recognition for the trustworthy and exemplary customer service they exhibited in the past year and overall.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2017 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include maintaining an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. The SSA winners must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check, record a current trade license attestation and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines. Service company ratings are updated continually on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in multiple fields ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

For over two decades Angie’s List has been a trusted name for connecting consumers to top-rated service professionals.

3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Roof

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With years of experience in the roofing business, believe us when we say we’ve seen it all. Buckets, coffee cans, trash bins, and anything else you could possibly think of, used by frantic homeowners to temporarily fix a leaky roof or neglected repairs.

Often, these unfortunate individuals think they’re buying time and saving money by fixing things D.I.Y. style. In reality, however, these temporary “Band-Aids” that appear to extend the life of your roof are only inflicting more damage and will end up costing you more of your hard-earned money down the road. That’s why the pros at Fichtner Services want to help you take a proactive approach to get more life out of your roof and actually save you money—and the good news is that you can start using this insight garnered over our extensive experience today!

Extending the lifetime of your roof beings around one simple word: MAINTENANCE.

Just like taking care of a car, you can get more so-called “mileage” out of your roof if you take good care of it year after year. However, unlike your car—which you typically use and see on a daily basis—you never really see or interact with your roof until there’s a major problem with it. It’s a crazy thought—especially when you consider that your roof plays a BIG role in keeping you and your family safe, secure, and protected. It’s the initial line of defense to protect you from the changing seasons and the wind, snow and rain they bring with them. Thus, it’s just logical to take your roof’s maintenance seriously. After all, proper roof care won’t just make your roof last longer, it’ll also save you tons of money and stress. So here’s some insider knowledge on how to get the most out of your roof!

  1. KEEP AN EYE ON THE GUTTERS: Gutters are easy to overlook, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important for your roof’s overall health and longevity. Gutters can get blocked up with leaves and sticks. When wet, this debris can weigh down your gutters, causing them to totally separate from the house itself. Don’t risk climbing up on a shaky ladder yourself—it’s not only dangerous, but you might fail to adequately de-clog those hard-to-reach spots that could lead to blockages down the road. Give Fichtner Services a call today to make sure your gutters—and roof—stay in tip-top shape!

  1. INSPECT YOUR ATTIC: What’s the first thing to keep an eye out for in your attic? Mold. If you detect mold taking over your attic, that’s usually a sign that your roof is compromised. If you find mold, contact professional help immediately so it can be properly and safely removed. Fichtner can keep you and your family safe from mold and fix the underlying issues that led to it forming in the first place.

  1. REGULARLY INSPECT YOUR ROOF: A general inspection is simply a walk-around the perimeter of your home. Keep on the look-out for granules from your shingles or visibly missing shingles. Spotting these problems early on can help you save thousands of dollars in repairs and lots of unneeded stress in the long run. Aside from self-inspections, be sure to get your roof professionally inspected at least semi-annually. Think of it like an oil change for your roof—it’s easy to put off, but before you know it, your engine is up in smoke and you’ve got bigger issues. Being proactive is key when it comes to extending the life of your roof and saving money.

Fichtner Services hopes your roof has a long lifetime and we are here to assist with its maintenance. Plus, when it does come time to have your roof replaced, please contact us to receive a free estimate.

Stress-Free Home Winterization

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It might still be sunny, but winter is fast approaching—making now the perfect time to start planning for winterizing your home. Here’s a handy checklist to help ensure your home is ready for the change in seasons. Begin by taking a good look at the exterior of your home, paying close attention to the roof, gutters, downspouts, grading and windows. These fixtures all require a little extra TLC before the cold weather hits.

THE ROOF

The burden of cold weather abuse is largely absorbed by your roof. The weight of accumulated snow and ice can be astronomical, freezing and thawing causes movement, and windy conditions can lift and tear at roofs. Typically, checking your roof requires perilously climbing that shaky ladder that’s been rusting away in your crawlspace. Thanks to Fichtner Services, there’s no need to put yourself through this dangerous exertion any longer. Our experts will clean off leaves and branches, trim overhanging tree limbs, and inspect for bulges, worn spots, or split seams that could lead to leaks during the winter months. Call today to get signed up for our Full Roof and Gutter Service before it’s too late!

GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS

The importance of free-flowing, leak-free gutters can’t be over-emphasized—they are integral to the overall health of the house, particularly the basement or crawlspace. If your eavestroughs can’t handle the rain or melting snow and ice, the ground will become soaked. If the ground is soaked around your house’s foundation, there is a substantially higher risk of a leaky basement—something you’ll undoubtedly want to avoid; especially in the winter! You can rest assured that the Fichtner experts will ensure you avoid this headache. With the expansion and contraction of aluminum gutters, debris clogging them up and weighing them down, it is important to have your gutters cleaned, tightened up and sealed at joints. We specialize in optimizing your gutters and downspouts to handle even the most torrential downpours—leaving you nice and dry all year long.

WINDOWS & DOORS

When the temperatures dip below freezing, there’s nothing worse for your comfort—not to mention your energy bill—than a drafty house. Checking you windows inside and out is an often-overlooked step in cutting down on the draftiness of your house. On the inside, and this might sound obvious, but check to make sure the windows are shut and locked all the way! I know at my house we like to open the windows in the fall for that fresh air. But sometimes when cool days turn to cold nights we just close the sash for the evening without locking it because we’re planning to open it the next day. Pretty soon it is too cold in the daytime as well and we’ve forgotten to LOCK the window tight. When the latch to that window is engaged, it completes the work for you in compressing that weather stripping and keeping the draft away. On the outside, make sure the caulk seals at the wall surface, such as siding or brick, to the window trim is nice and tight. If it is cracked or pulled away leaving a gap then you should re-caulk prior to the cold weather. This will prevent water intrusion that will later expand and contract in the freezing temperatures making the problem worse

For your doors, if your doors or storm door jiggles or doesn’t shut firmly, you’re losing that important seal to the outside.   Storm doors have an insulating pocket of air between it and the exterior door so make sure those are tight. Most storm doors have an adjustable strike plate—the metal tab with a hole in it that’s mounted on the jamb—and simply moving it up or down a fraction of an inch can keep the door from blowing off its hinges in a strong gust of wind. You’ll also want to take a look at your door sweeps—the long metal or rubber extensions that are nailed on to close the gap between the bottom of the door and the flooring—and make sure they are installed correctly on basement and attic entries as well as on exterior doors. Don’t take a chance of missing a gap—here at Fichtner Services, we pride ourselves in our attention to detail, outstanding customer service, and affordable pricing. Stop in or give us a call today to make sure your home is in tip-top shape for the coming winter.

ATTIC ACCESS & CEILING PENETRATIONS

The exchange of conditioned inside air with unconditioned outside air, whether summer or winter, is a constant source of energy loss and can cause serious condensation problems. One of the best things you can do to cut down on it is to re-insulate your attic above the ceiling and make sure the access hatch and holes through the ceiling (light fixtures, fans) are properly sealed or capped off in the attic. A plywood cover over the hatch with insulation adhered to it is a quick fix but there are also pre-made access covers that do a nice job of covering a set of dropdown stairs. Check the fans and light fixtures up close and seal gaps you might find with caulk. From inside the attic, if you can see exposed and uninsulated can lights, fans and other penetrations, then they should be safely covered up with pre-made insulated covers that won’t cause a fire. Taking these steps will pay dividends in the coming winters and summers!

Happy Labor Day

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LABOR DAY THEN & NOW—A DAY FOR THE PEOPLE, A DAY FOR HOPE

Labor Day is about more than throwing some burgers on the grill and kicking back with a cold beer to enjoy a day off from work. Don’t get us wrong—we love a well-deserved breather from the daily grind just as much as you do—but we also realize that this day of rest is an opportunity—a chance to recognize the determination, perseverance and resiliency of the men and women whose hard work has made American industry what it is today.

The story of Labor Day’s origin speaks volumes to the distinct qualities that makes this country and its perennial economic vigor truly great. Flash back to New York City in 1882. The labor movement had been growing steadily stronger, with many of the unions finding prosperity by joining together into one Central Labor Union consisting of members from many local unions. These representatives proposed that all workers should join together in a showing of solidarity for a celebration of the American worker. They chose to hold the event in Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue—New York City’s largest park at the time—and set the date for September 5, 1882. By June, the Central Labor Union had sold over 20,000 tickets with the proceeds going to each local union selling them. By the time August rolled around, the Union passed an official resolution “that the 5th of September be proclaimed a general holiday for the workingmen in this city.” On the morning of September 5th, the Union worried that the celebration would be a colossal failure—most of the parade’s participants would have to lose a day’s pay to take part in the festivities—and, at first, it appeared they were correct. When the parade started, only a few workers composed the procession with hundreds of onlookers standing on the sidewalk mocking them. But then something remarkable happened—200 workers and a band from the Jewelers’ Union appeared and joined in. Then came a contingent of bricklayers with yet another band in tow. By the time the parade reached the park, it was estimated that there were over 10,000 marchers in the parade to support the workers. Wendel’s Elm Park was decorated with the flags of several nations. Everyone picnicked, drank beer and took in speeches from the union leaders. In the evening, even more people gathered to watch fireworks and dance. The newspapers declared the event a resounding success, with the New York Times labeling it a “day of the people.”

Fichtner Services is honored to count itself as part of the great American working tradition. We strive every day to mirror the ingenuity, spirit, and commitment to excellence that has made the building industry a cornerstone of the nationwide economy. Yes, we’ll be barbecuing and enjoying the company of friends and family just like you on Labor Day—but we’ll also pause to take inspiration from our predecessors; we’ll take heart knowing that we will be able to answer the challenges of the modern business world just as they did; and—perhaps most importantly—we’ll realize that this is still a “day of the people” just as it was a century ago. That’s what drives the Fichtner Services team. We owe “the people” of our community the same quality and service they exemplify in their respective vocations that constitute this great society. It’s that obligation that inspires our success, and it’s that obligation that sets us apart from the competition. When you choose Fichtner Services, you choose a partner. A partner in the great American working tradition—and, as history goes to show, that tradition always delivers.

2017 Annapolis “Best Roofing” Company

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Fichtner Services is honored to have received the Captial Reader’s Choice “Best Roofing” Award for the sixth year in a row.

We would like to express our appreciation to all of our loyal customers for voting for Fichtner Services. We know that you have many choices when selecting a Maryland roofing company. We are proud of our reputation and the fact that 75% of our business comes from repeat customers and referrals.

The Fichtner Services team takes price in craftsmanship and customer service. Our number one goal is complete customer satisfaction. In fact, all of our work is backed by a written guarantee.

We pledge to continue this tradition as the “Best Roofing Company” in Annapolis. Thank you for trusting Fichtner Services to protect your largest asset, your home.

Moisture in the Attic

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Once the weather starts getting cold we get many calls from homeowners saying that they have a roof leak showing up as widespread moisture on the inside surface of the plywood and nail points inside their attic. I first encountered this problem in my early years in business when a roof we replaced kept having this same problem, sometimes forming sheets of ice all over the interior sheathing and nails. I went to the house repeatedly searching for roofing problems but there were none. It was a simple roof with a good roof pitch and all the best materials properly installed. Finally I decided there must be something else going on so we switched focus to the home’s interior and attic space. What could be causing this much moisture? I started doing some research (at the library!) and found articles about similar problems. The causes of this problem were based on dew point, humidity and condensation. The solutions were found in interior moisture control, insulation and ventilation.

A house produces a lot of moisture, in fact gallons of it every day. Cooking, showering, burning fuel, furnace humidifiers, free standing humidifiers and other household items all produce tremendous amounts of water vapor. If you had a roof leak that was concentrated in your attic space that combined all of this moisture into one spot, in your bedroom for instance, you would see a very serious problem. Drywall would be falling into your bed! However, because the gallons of water being produced in your home are in vapor form, you don’t see it. The vapor is supposed to be ducted away to the outside of your home or stay at a level that won’t cause problems. Go back to the home I worked on 20 years ago with ice on the interior surface – there was ONE specific problem we found that corrected their issue immediately – a ceiling bath fan had a 3 foot pipe pointing into their attic and was not ducted to the outside. Look at the amount of moisture that accumulates on your mirror when you take a hot shower – now blow all that moisture into your attic on a cold morning! The vapor is suspended in warm air, which carries more moisture, and is being blown into an attic with cold air which compresses that moisture out. The vapor needs to go somewhere, so it finds the coldest surfaces to cling to. Just like a glass of ice water that leaves a puddle of water on the countertop, the condensation effect in your attic deposits moisture the same way.

Dew and fog function this way: when the temperature drops, moisture in the air is forced out. The dew point is the point at which liquid water will form out of the air.

Let’s say you have a dew point of 68° F, moisture will form anywhere the air can find that is below the dew point temperature. This is why we wake up in the mornings to find our car windshields covered with water or ice. Now look at the air in your home. In the colder months, the inside air is warmer and the dew point is higher than outside air. When this warmer inside air escapes into your attic, where it is combing with outside air, if the temperature and dew point levels are lower, the higher moisture content is immediately forced out of the air escaping from the house and will form condensation on whatever is coldest, which is typically surfaces of sheathing and nails.

To solve this problem, the moisture being produced needs to be managed and kept in check. A clothes dryer removes gallons of water out of your laundry in every load so it needs to be carried away to the outside of the home. This is obvious but the same is true for bathrooms with showers and in your kitchen.

moisture-attic-luggageThese high humidity environments need to have fans that pull the air through duct work directly to the outside of the home. The inside of the home needs to be checked thoroughly for all types of sources of moisture and then confirm that the moisture is being carried all the way outdoors.

The second thing to manage is the temperature and humidity level in the home. Many furnaces have whole house humidifiers that make your home more comfortable in the winter time by pumping vapor into the forced air system. These humidifiers, as well as stand-alone units, can quickly get out of control and overwhelm the home’s moisture balance, typically in the attic, but also on windows and other surfaces.

The third item is insulation and seals. Preventing the warm moist air from escaping freely into the cold attic space is not to be underestimated. An attic insulation level of R49 is now code while only 30 years ago it was just R19. The pull down stairs, light fixtures (especially recessed lights) and other openings in the ceiling need to be sealed off so that air does not transfer through.

The fourth thing is attic ventilation. A soffit intake area paired with ridge vents is the most common system. But this soffit to ridge ventilation pattern is largely based on hot air rising, drawing air into the soffits as the air is pushed up through the ridge vents. Therefore it can only do so much when the attic is cool and too much moisture is getting into the attic. When this occurs, an add-on item such as a power attic fan with a humidistat could be needed.

For further information regarding this issue, please refer to these articles: //www.human.cornell.edu/dea/outreach/upload/attic-condensation-2.pdf
//www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/are-dew-point-calculations-really-necessary