10 Signs of Siding Problems

Stephanie Shaykin
Updated December 14, 2021
New construction home with nice siding
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

Siding problems can pop up in the form of rot, mold, or water stains, but each of these can be tackled with ease

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Your siding is one of the first things many will notice about your home, so maintaining it can help boost your curb appeal. But because so much of your home’s exterior is made up of siding, any issues leave your home vulnerable to damage.

Figuring out the warning signs of siding problems can help you tackle any issues early and maybe even avoid having to take on the cost of siding replacement. Keep an eye out for some of the red flags of siding issues mentioned below. 

1. Siding Deterioration and Aging

Homes will show signs of aging in different ways depending on what type of siding they have. Vinyl will experience solar wear, and wood can rot or warp. Older masonite-type composite siding may crack at the edges and start to deteriorate, allowing water in.

Signs of damage or aging on vinyl siding will appear in wavy, warped, and uneven spots. While some of these issues can pop up naturally over time, some are the result of improper installation and shifting. To avoid paying for the cost of siding repair to fix these issues, make sure you hire a trusted pro to ensure siding is installed correctly.

2. Missing or Rusty Nails on Your Siding

Does your siding look rusty or exposed in some places? Do the nails seem to be sticking out, like they have popped their heads off? These are both signs that your siding is expanding and contracting.

Rusty nails can signify moisture damage and leave streaks down your siding, likely due to aging. Missing nails can also be a strong indicator that something has gone wrong with your siding. The next strong windstorm could come and make your siding fall off or blow away, so find a local siding contractor who can replace and update your siding. 

3. Siding Seams and Caulk Cracking or Shrinking

Cracking caulk is visible at any seams or joints that are crooked. If the boards show signs of holding unevenly and there is a prominent line in between two different pieces of siding, then this means your siding system could fail. The caulking should cover up these lines when installed correctly to create a seamless bond to keep out moisture and prevent damage.

You will probably notice this issue shortly after installation, so be sure to contact the contractor you worked with to see if there is anything they can do.

4. Installing Siding Boards Too Tightly

If you hear a bump in the night, it's probably not a ghost—popping, creaking, or rattling could actually be a sign of siding problems. Vinyl installations leave room for those movements of contractions and expansions–especially as the seasons change.

When siding is too tight, you hear those creepy creaking or popping sounds and then rattling from the wind. The way to mitigate these scary sounds (and the problem altogether) is to hire a specialized local siding professional to remove them and reapply them correctly.

5. Fading or Missing Paint

Roof peak of a new house
Photo: tomeng / Getty Images

The paint on your exterior siding only lasts a certain amount of time, so you need to put some effort into maintaining your siding. The paint quality and the number of coats can affect how long the paint will last. But generally, well-maintained paint will last approximately two years on wood siding and up to 25 years on HardiePlank siding.

Faded and missing patches of paint are a big sign of a siding problem. Peeling paint will also leave your siding exposed, allowing for moisture damage. And if that happens, a paint job cannot undo any major damage, and you may have to replace your siding.

Painting isn't just cosmetic; it also serves the critical purpose of sealing and protecting your siding. A fresh coat of paint will do the job if done before that pesky moisture creeps in.

Vinyl siding will generally never need paint since the color is mixed in, but it can fade and needs replacing or special “vinyl-safe” paint if you're looking to change the color.

6. Pests Like Termites Munching on Your Siding

Termite damage is one of the more common reasons why you would need to replace wood siding. This kind of damage can have major impacts if not caught soon enough. Contact a siding pro to assess any damage. It can also help if you use insecticides or hire a pest control pro to safely keep those wood-eating insects away. 

Although HardiePlank and vinyl are less susceptible to termites, you could still face other pest problems. Rodents or insects can find their way into your home and create nests between your siding and interior walls. A professional should always inspect the problem and seal off the little critter’s former home for you, so the problem stops at the source. 

7. Rot and Mold on Your Siding

If moisture like rain, melting ice, or humidity can penetrate the siding, it has failed. While moisture damage can show up in the form of visible mold on the interior wall, other times, you may not be able to notice it until major damage has been done.

Similarly, wood rot can happen without any cosmetic change but might cause an odor as time goes by. Hire a professional siding repair person to properly remove rotting or moldy siding and replace it with a better-quality option.

8. Siding Water Stains

Sometimes if there’s a hole in your siding, you may see sudden and subtle water spills inside the home that indicate water damage from rainwater. Water stains showing some discoloration and streaking are an indicator of a leak. Leaking will likely also cause problems with your interior walls later down the line, like wall bubbling or mold.

Take a photo of your home’s siding and take notes of any damage so you can be better prepared when speaking with a pro. The repairperson will remove the rotted area and replace it with new paneling.

Prevent water from becoming a problem by inspecting and maintaining your siding at least once a year. 

9. Material Damage to Your Siding

Whether it’s a falling branch from a seasonal storm or a stray baseball, outside elements can damage your siding, resulting in physical damage. When left unchecked, this damage can cause big siding problems down the line.

Vinyl siding is particularly vulnerable to cracking, chipping, holes, or punctures from things like hail, especially if it’s older than 20 years. If you have wood, aluminum, or metal siding, you should also look for visible dents.

In the case of noticeable dents, you should consider replacing your home’s siding so it can continue to protect your home and your family for years to come. 

10. High Utility Bills

If your utility bills are through the roof, your siding could be to blame. If you notice a random cost bump, especially in the winter months, your siding may not have proper insulation. Insulation keeps your home comfortable and cool in the summer and nice and toasty in the winter.

Most older siding will lack energy efficiency, and a contractor can help you assess this and, if needed, install specially insulated siding on your home. You'll soon find those energy costs going back to normal.

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