One of the biggest enemies of a home’s structural soundness is moisture. Rain, snow, ice, humidity, and condensation can all wear away at building materials, weakening them and causing costly damage. Siding is a significant investment, and it is well worth getting a top-performing material—but it’s also vital to have it installed properly.
That’s why it’s so essential to have a carefully placed waterproof layer beneath your siding. Without a weather barrier, your home is at greater risk of moisture intrusion and all its subsequent problems, such as wood rot, mold, mildew, and leaks.
Yet poor installation techniques can cause your weather barrier to fail, which causes your siding to break down and your home to suffer water damage. Here’s what to know about this vital element of your home’s protection—and what to do if it’s missing or faulty.
Weather Barrier 101
If you haven’t heard of a weather barrier before, that’s not exactly surprising, because it doesn’t always get mentioned in discussions about types of siding to choose for your home.
Yet a weather barrier or waterproofing wrap underneath your siding is an essential part of your home’s protective layers against moisture damage. So, it’s important to understand what this barrier is and how it works.
Simply put, a weather barrier is part of your home’s exterior wall assembly. This water-resistant layer prevents the passage of moisture, rain and wind through critical areas of the walls and roof, and protects vulnerable building components from deterioration.
How a Weather Barrier Safeguards Your Home
Think of your house’s siding as a first line of defense against damage. The protective moisture-resistant layer beneath it is your second line of defense. When intact, these layers offer a one-two punch against water intrusion.
Consider the benefits of a properly installed weather barrier:
- Water that gets behind the siding will drain properly.
- Mildew and mold are held at bay.
- Your home experiences less energy loss—saving you money
- Your property stays safeguarded from water damage.
- You avoid costly repairs due to hidden leaks.
Without a strong, properly placed weather barrier, moisture more easily seeps behind your siding. Instead of draining, there, it remains, eating away at your house without being seen until it’s too late. The result can be widespread wood rot and other structural damage that is pricey and time-consuming to address.
Other Causes of Water Damage to Be Aware Of
Of course, a missing, inferior, or improperly installed weather barrier is not the only reason you might experience excess moisture behind your siding. It’s a good idea to inspect your siding for damage whenever you know of or suspect any of these issues:
- Faulty or damaged siding planks due to errors in manufacturing
- Poor installation techniques, such as putting new siding atop old, damaged siding
- Pest damage from termites, carpenter ants, or woodpeckers
- Broken or missing caulking around windows, door frames, or between siding boards
- Cracks or other problems caused by hail or other weather elements
- Lack of proper, timely maintenance
- Clogged gutters and/or leaky roofing
- Failing siding due to old age and excessive wear
- Harsh weather, including unusually strong storms and long cold snaps followed by quick thaws
Remember, a professional assessment from a trusted home improvement company can help you walk through all the possible causes of moisture problems. That way, you get the best solution for your specific situation.
How to Spot Signs of Water Damage Beneath Siding
Do you suspect you may have moisture problems beneath your siding? It’s important to catch the issue as early as possible. Look around your property for these common signals that you may have water damage.
Wet Spots or Stains
Walk through your house, looking carefully at walls and ceilings. Are there unexplained wet spots, stains or streaks from leaks that haven’t been previously repaired?
Condensation around Windows
Notice the interiors of your windows, especially at times when the weather outside is much hotter or cooler than it is inside. If you’re seeing telltale drops of moisture on interior glass panes or in-between double panes, that’s condensation that can lead to moisture damage.
(Note that condensation that appears only on the outside of the glass, facing the outdoors, is actually a sign your windows are insulated well.)
Crystalline Salt Deposits
Examine the walls and floors of your basement and around the house’s foundation. Are you seeing powdery white streaks? That may be “efflorescence”—salt deposits that form as a result of excess moisture.
Worn or Weakened Siding
Walk around your home’s exterior, and keep an eye out for any evidence of unusual wear and tear. You may see cracks in your siding boards, dents, holes, rust streaks, or rotted wood—all of which can indicate moisture is getting behind the siding.
What to Do if You Have Water Damage to Siding
The best way to create a lasting solution to problems with your weather barrier is to remove old siding, make any repairs to the underlying structure that may be needed, and replace the siding with a reliable weather barrier underneath.
Our team recommends James Hardie fiber cement siding to address concerns about waterproofing. With its HardieWrap Weather Barrier, you can get trusted moisture protection as well as gorgeous style and lasting value.
Regardless of your siding material choice, be sure to ask whether the siding contractor plans to install a weather barrier—and be sure to work with precision installers like our team to get top results that keep your home safeguarded and low-maintenance for years to come.
Don’t leave your home exposed to the risks of moisture damage. Get help from our siding experts to ensure your home stays protected long-term.
Our experienced team at John McCarter Construction has a solid track record of superior craftsmanship and happy customers, and we take great pride in helping homeowners love their homes. If you’re looking for siding repair or replacement, our siding services will give you peace of mind. Reach out to us anytime to learn more.