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How to care for the exterior of your home

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One of the challenges of living on the coast is taking care of the exterior of your home.

Algae growth and mildew frequently appear on siding in the humid south. Experts suggest cleaning your vinyl, brick, stucco or wood siding with mild soap and water, a brush and a garden hose with a spray nozzle. They also suggest hiring a professional to pressure wash the exterior.

Here are some more tips on maintaining stucco and brick:

Stucco

  • Keep it clean. When dirt and grime take hold of your stucco surface, industry experts recommend using a garden hose and household cleaning detergent to spray the surface from top to bottom. Use a scrub brush on areas where dirt is persistent. Pressure washing is not recommended, as too much pressure can crack, chip, or loosen the stucco.
  • Inspect for cracks. Cracks smaller than 1/16 inch won’t need immediate attention. But larger cracks need to be repaired by an installer, after a thorough cleaning.
  • Test for moisture. The key to preventing major damage in a stucco exterior is to discover the problem early and have it repaired. Stucco exteriors should have a moisture test to determine if there is abnormal moisture.

Brick

  • Inspect the brick. Brick exteriors are vulnerable to moisture and can degrade over time.
  • Examine your exterior brick walls periodically for plant growth. Cut as close to the surface as possible, but never pull.
  • Look for weep holes. These small holes at the bottom of the brickwork allow moisture to drain out. Clean them out if they become plugged.
  • Look for efflorescence. This white, salty deposit on the brick is a sign of water penetration. You can clean this with a stiff brush or a chemical cleaner, if hard deposits have formed. Do not power wash; it can damage the surface of the brick and weaken it.