Our Answers to Clients' Most Frequently Asked Questions


Why do I have condensation on my windows?

Excessive humidity levels in your home is what causes condensation, not your windows. Condensation is proof of excessive moisture in the air, which can actually be fixed with a dehumidifier or the cleaning of your HVAC units by a professional technician. For more information on condensation, please visit AAMA’s website.

How much can I save by switching out my old windows with new energy efficient windows?

This answer varies depending on several factors: the characteristics of your old and new windows, the size of your home, your property’s location, and more. ENERGY STAR® has put together calculated estimates of the energy you are bound to save when replacing a single-pane or double-pane clear glass window. Ask our team for more specifics on how much money you could be saving with our windows.

Why won’t my window sash stay up?

If your window sash won’t stay up, it may be due to the wrong size window being installed or the balance of your window is off. Unfortunately, this fix requires help form the professionals as the repair is different for every window style and manufacturer. Get in touch with our team if you’re having issues with your window sash.

What window warranties do you offer?

As a window dealer of MI Windows and Doors, our window replacement products are all covered under a Limited Lifetime Customer Assurance Warranty. This allows for homeowners to order replacement parts at no additional charge when their MI windows are broken or not operating properly. Some of our windows also come with a Glass Breakage Limited Warranty where new glass can be purchased at no additional cost if your window breaks.

How can I make the window installation process go as smoothly as possible?

To have your window installation process go as smoothly as possible, make sure the opening to your windows has been cleaned before our contractor gets there. Once your custom windows are installed, make sure there isn’t any more work to be done before using your windows. Lastly, take care of your caulk and trim to make sure your windows last as long as possible.

What should I do if I have water sitting in the sill area of my window?

If you notice water sitting in the sill of your window, this may mean that the weep holes are blocked. To fix this, gently clean the weep holes using a dry paintbrush or vacuum brush to remove any dust or debris. If you notice that the weep holes are clear, or the cleaning does not fix the issue, contact our experts at 309.762.6244 or the manufacturers customer care center at 717.365.2500.

How do you determine the square footage of a window or door?

Finding the correct measurements for your window or door is simple. First take an accurate measurement of the width and height of your windows or door. Next, multiple the width by the height, and divide that answer by 144 to get a square footage measurement.


Why are gutters important?

The primary purpose of gutters is to divert water away from your foundation. Pooling water can collect around your basement walls inside your crawl space and create major damage. Most of the damage caused is very expensive to fix. 

How do I know when to replace my gutters?

Gutter should be replaced when they are rusty and falling apart for obvious reasons. The other times gutters should be replaced are when they are bent or damaged by a storm or falling debris. Bent gutters can restrict the flow of water and cause other issues. Also, if your gutters are old and have seams, installing seamless gutters will be more appealing and offer longer life. Plus, without seams there is less of a chance for debris to collect inside your gutters. 

Why are leaky gutters such a problem?

Leaky gutters are the single biggest cause of basement leaks. Basement leaks are the single biggest cause of foundation issues. Foundation issues are very expensive and can threaten the entire structure. The trickle down effect of leaky or faulty gutters can result in very costly repairs that are seemingly unrelated.  

What is the difference between a residential and commercial gutter?

The short answer to this question is, one inch. A residential gutter typically refers to a five inch wide gutter and is very common on midwestern homes, which is why it’s referred to as a “residential gutter.”  A “commercial gutter” refers to a six inch gutter and can handle a considerably higher volume than its five inch sibling. The difference is in the size. Now, six inch gutters are being installed on homes more frequently. They offer better curb appeal and move 50% more water. Plus the downspouts are larger in size so they are much less likely to get clogged than the five inch version.   

Can I get gutters in all different colors?

Yes! Gutters come in a variety of colors. White is the most common color and there are literally hundreds of different shades of white. The time this is most evident is when you have new white gutters installed on your home and do not replace the metal fascia wrap behind the gutters. Many times people will notice a stark contrast between the two. It’s always good to hold a metal swatch up to the existing gutters to see how close you can get them.

How can I tell if my gutters aren't draining properly?

If you can hear water slapping the ground because it’s pouring over the sides of the gutters when it rains, you may have an issue. There may be blockage inside the gutter new the downspout. Or, there could be blockage underground in the drainage tile system that carries the gutter water away. It’s always best to look at the wood behind where the gutters are installed to make sure no surfaces are corroded. That is the biggest sign of overflowing gutter issues. ** Keep in mind, unusually heavy rains will cause even the cleanest gutters to overflow. So, those gushers shouldn’t be a concern. However, if in normal rainfall your gutters are overflowing, you need to get it taken care of immediately so it doesn’t cause bigger issues. 

Can I install gutters on my own?

Certainly, if you are a regular do-it-yourselfer and are comfortable on a ladder, you can install sectional gutters, but you’ll need a qualified professional to install seamless gutters. It is a good idea to remember the risk you are assuming. Falling from ladders can cause permanent damage or even death. You will need some tools and probably a second set of hands at certain times. When you consider your time, the tools involved, the material, and the risk, it’s sometimes best to hire someone. Especially companies that are offering a guarantee on their work. 

Gutter Covers

Are there different types of gutter covers?

We offer two of the best and our sales rep will show you why. But, yes, there are other types of gutter cover. The main types available at big box stores for DIY’ers are metal or rubber screen, or a foam insert. We feel like both are not the best option and that is why we offer something entirely different.

Do you still need to clean your gutters if you have covers on them?

Gutter covers can do a very good job of keeping gutters flowing freely. If you have big trees in your yard, gutter covers will save you time and nasty work by helping to prevent your gutters from getting clogged. Even with gutter covers you should check your gutters once per year to make sure you don’t have any issues. Sometimes you will have to remove a section to make sure. 

Why are the options you offer better than what I can get at the hardware store?

It’s fairly well documented that the screens you buy at the hardware store don’t work at all long term. You may get a season out of them at best. But when you go up and inspect what’s going on you will see that they are ineffective long term. That’s because they collect dirt, those tiny “helicopters,” roof granules and more. So you end up clogged gutters all over again, it just takes longer. Plus now you have to remove the gutter cover to clean them out.  

What about brands like LeafGuard, Gutter Helmet & GutterTopper?

Reverse curve systems are found under various brand names. Those products make a substantial claim that their system is foolproof and superior. All of them are using the idea that “surface adhesion” will work in all instances. Just like the demo with water from a hose at a “home and garden” show. There, it seems to work great. But rain doesn’t happen that way all the time. What about ice? What about a tree nearby? What about a downpour that drops several inches all at once? Then their gutter system isn’t much more than anyone else’s.


Are metal roofs better than asphalt shingle roofs?

Most of the claims made about metal roofing being a better solution than asphalt shingles can’t be substantiated. The truth is, some metal roofs delaminate. Some require paint after a few years. Some start to rust. Some can damage easily by a person walking on the roof to perform simple maintenance. Some can be permanently damaged by large hail. So, being able to substantiate the claims is key, and that will be very hard to do without more time. The other major consideration is the cost. Metal roofs can cost up to 60% more than a shingled roof. Today, some asphalt shingle roofing products are made to last 50 years and beyond. The warranty on a shingled roof is typically stronger and better than a metal roof and for a longer duration. Don’t believe the hype; do your research before you blindly accept the claim that metal is better than shingles. Because in some cases, it’s not.

How do I know if my roof is leaking?

If you have attic access, one of the best ways to see if you have a leak is to go up with a flashlight and look. Sometimes you may want to stand on the ladder itself and brace yourself as you look around. Don’t walk in the attic unless you know for sure where you are stepping so you don’t step through a drywall ceiling and hurt yourself in the process. If you do have a leak, you should be able to smell it. That is always a great sign there is an issue. Properly vented roofing systems circulate fresh air constantly. If there is a leak, there may be a musty smell. Also, water stains or discoloration around penetrations in the roof is a great indicator. Leaks typically happen around penetrations like vents or chimneys. That is usually because proper flashing wasn’t installed when the roof was put on. Check the wood framing for signs of moisture that will appear as dark spots or rot. Inspect the insulation to see if it is matted, damp, or eroding. During and after major rainstorms, you can also walk through your home and look at the ceilings and walls for signs of staining, bulging, or drips. Should you see any of these, call us.

Should I get a new roof before I sell my home?

There is no question that a new roof helps sell your home. Especially if the new roof comes with a transferable warranty for your buyer. Roofing is one of the single biggest expenses a homeowner will have. Roofing is very expensive and there is no indication that it will ever be less. Plus, some mortgage companies will not offer a mortgage on a home with an old worn-out roof. More and more insurance companies won’t insure a home that has a worn-out roof at all. This is happening more and more as insurance companies evaluate their losses and have determined that roofing is a major cost to their business. If you can’t afford a new roof, you can always negotiate with a buyer so that they can put one on once they take possession. You can also finance a new roof and then pay it off when the house sells. There are options.

Do steep slope roofs last longer than low slope or flat roofs?

Steep slope roofs that are exposed to the sun and are not vented properly will wear out the fastest. Flat or low slope roofing products are made of rubber or another synthetic material. There are many variables to consider when trying to determine which roof will last the longest. The variables include climate in the region, exposure to direct sunlight, proximity to trees and other vegetation, ventilation, materials used, and installation techniques used.

What is an Ice & Water Shield and why is it important?

Ice and water shield is a thick membrane with an adhesive back that is typically installed at the eaves and around penetrations on a roof. Its sole purpose is to provide an extra layer of protection from moisture getting on the deck. Take for example the area closest to the gutters. If the gutters are full of ice and then there is a thaw, then there is ice again, this can push ice up under the shingles. When it gets warmer, that ice turns to water and you can have a problem. When this happens many people that don’t have ice and water shield installed incorrectly believe that their roof is failing. Ice and water shield are a requirement by most building codes today. That’s because without it you’re exposing yourself to unnecessary risks.

How do I know if my Asphalt Shingle Roof needs replacing?

The biggest indicator that replacement is needed is age. If your roof is more than 20 years old, there’s a good chance it’s due for replacement, especially if your home is around 20 years old. There are two things to consider. One, home builders are not necessarily roofers. They are focused on the cost of materials and the amount of time something takes. That means that the roofing materials on your roof could be the most inexpensive materials they could find at the time. Then, on top of that, they may have cut corners to save time. Installing flashing correctly around penetrations is one area where shortcuts are taken during new construction. The other area to consider is marketing. Just because your shingles said “thirty-year shingles” on the packaging doesn’t mean they will last for 30 years. That was marketing only. Not a guarantee. The guarantee would require proper installation initially. So even newer roofs can fail if they are not properly installed.

After the age of the roof is considered, there are a few indicators to look for. For example, if shingles are lifting, cracked or missing, have curled edges or places where the granules have worn off, it could be time for a replacement. Another way to determine if you need a new roof is to go up into the attic. On a bright sunny day, leave the lights off. Standing on the ladder, look around for pinholes of light coming through the areas around the penetrations. If you can see light, there is a good chance the flashings around the penetrations are shot, which means it’s time for a new roof.
Visible leaks aren’t always an indication that you need a new roof. That could be a vent flashing that failed and if you address that single issue you could get some more life out of the existing roof. It’s best to take notes and photos and consult with the professionals at Mainstream Home Improvement.

What is the best underlayment to use on the roof deck?

We recommend synthetic underlayment from OC rather than the black felt paper that is commonly used. Black felt paper is made using pulp and petroleum products. It deteriorates over time. If left on the deck by itself, it wouldn’t last more than a few days before it starts to ripple and wrinkle. Some synthetic underlayments can last up to six months without shingles being applied. We prefer synthetic underlayment for its ability to keep the roof deck completely dry and provide a sturdy base for the new shingles. Shingles by themselves are not waterproof. It’s the underlayment that makes a roof watertight. Therefore the underlayment should be made from a material that is very sturdy and will stand the test of time.

My roof is stained with black streaks. What can I do about it?

The dark streaks are a type of algae that lives in the shingles and thrives in areas that don’t get direct sunlight. Areas like north-facing slopes or that are heavily shaded. The dark streaks are not cause for major concern as it’s not necessarily damaging. You can call a power washing company and ask them if they do gentle roof washing. Typically they will apply a solution that will kill the algae and then it can be rinsed away. If you decide to do this yourself, please do not apply a lot of pressure to your shingles because you will damage your roof in the process.
Most of the newer shingles made today offer protection against staining because of the algae-resistant granules the shingles are made with.

Can I install another layer of shingles over the existing layer?

We do not like to do what is called a layover because we can’t warranty the roof. The reason we can’t warranty the roof is that we have no idea what is under the existing layer of shingles. Did the previous roofing contractor apply the flashing correctly? Is the decking sturdy or is it rotted? Is there an ice and water shield around the penetrations? Is there protection in the valleys? What kind of underlayment was used and is it in good condition? None of these questions can be answered unless you strip the old roof off and get down to a clean deck. That is the only way to know for sure what you are up against.
Adding a second layer of shingles adds twice the weight, doesn’t last as long and doesn’t eliminate leaks. It can exacerbate any issues you are currently having. It’s a shortcut that we strongly urge against.


What types of house siding does Mainstream Home Improvement offer?

While there are many different types of siding products for your home we install vinyl siding exclusively. Our reasoning is simple. Vinyl is weather-resistant and maintenance-free. Other than cleaning the vinyl siding on occasion, you don’t have to do anything. Wood siding has to be painted or treated and is susceptible to bugs and other animals. Concrete siding (cement board) has to be painted, treated, and caulked every five years or so. The labor to install wood or cement boards is significantly higher too. So instead of having to charge our customers more for something that isn’t going to be maintenance-free and last forever, we only offer vinyl siding products.

Should I repaint my home or install Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl siding offers so many benefits over paint. For one, with paint, you will have to repaint every five to seven years. Paint doesn’t last when exposed to the elements. Vinyl siding does. Vinyl siding is mostly maintenance-free. Other than needing to be cleaned thoroughly every few years, vinyl siding offers unparalleled protection.
Insects don’t like to eat Vinyl siding products. Plus the new vinyl siding products are increasingly made from recycled materials and offer better protection from the elements long term. You can even install a product called insulated Vinyl siding that adds a level of insulation to your home that is helpful in climates that fluctuate by more than fifty degrees seasonally. Painted wood can simply not compete on any level.

Soffits and Fascia – How will I take care of those in the future?

We cover the existing soffits and fascia with PVC or Aluminum wrap products. So rather than replace what you have, we cap it so it becomes maintenance-free. You will not have to paint it again and the original painted wood material is protected from the elements moving forward

Why should I consider vinyl for my home?

Today’s vinyl siding products can mimic wood, insulate your home, and even stand up to tornado-force winds, making them a highly desirable exterior cladding option.

What about color options?

We have all of the latest color options including the darker colors that are so popular today. Our products also offer fade protection so you don’t have to worry about your siding changing colors due to sun exposure. There are more color options available today than ever before and we keep getting more as tastes and trends change with time.

Will the siding crack, fade, buckle, or sag?

When siding was first introduced back in the 1940s, there were lots of issues with the materials used. Fast forward 80 years and the vinyl products used today are engineered to move and compensate for the changing climate and environment. Proper installation of Vinyl siding will allow for expansion and contraction. Vinyl siding is not supposed to be nailed tight so that it can’t move. Buckling and sagging issues are caused by a poor installation by someone who doesn’t understand the proper techniques. Those issues are rarely if ever caused by the material itself today.

What types of Vinyl Siding design options exist?

Vinyl siding doesn’t come in just horizontal panels. Instead, you can get a vertical, wood shake look, scallops, and even a simulated slate tile look. Vinyl products are quite versatile. The most common vinyl siding in the Midwest is D4 which means “double four” or two four-inch pieces on one panel that is 8’, 10’, 12’, or even 16’ long. That is just one of the hundreds of examples. (The benefits of longer panels are less visible seams.)
If you are not sure which type will look best, our rep can help you narrow down your choices by showing you what is available.

What about rot?

Unlike wood, vinyl siding does not rot – ever. If installed correctly with a vapor barrier protecting the sheathing or substrate, vinyl siding will eliminate any type of rot from happening. Vinyl siding itself does not provide a waterproof barrier. That is why proper installation techniques require the use of a synthetic barrier like house wrap or a poly board to be applied underneath the siding being installed.

Will I ever have to do anything to my new siding?

While vinyl siding is mostly maintenance-free, it does require cleaning. That should be done with a low-pressure environmentally safe cleaning solution. If you do not clean vinyl siding, you will notice a color change due to a film that appears over time. That grime is from exposure to the elements and if it isn’t washed periodically can cause oxidation which will result in a chalky film.

What if it is damaged?

It is important to keep a record of the brand and type of vinyl siding you have. That way if it’s damaged, matching will be easier. For example, manufacturers don’t make the same simulated wood grain texture. Nor do colors match. There are over a hundred and twenty different shades of white siding. So matching in the case of damage could become a nightmare. Sun exposure can change the color of older siding so again, matching can be difficult.
However, if you have a record of the manufacturer and type of siding used, you have a much better chance of a match and the repair can be as simple as unzipping the damaged siding and zipping back in the new pieces for a professional.

What is insulated vinyl siding and why should I consider it?

Insulated Vinyl siding is vinyl siding that has a styrofoam backing on the inside of the panel. The advantage to this type of siding is that it goes on straighter and looks better longer. Plus, that extra insulation adds another R4 to the exterior of your home resulting in higher comfort and potentially lower energy bills year-round. The unexpected benefit of vinyl siding is sound deadening. If you have modern double pane windows along with insulated siding, your home can be next to a busy road and you won’t hear much of anything at all inside.