Vinyl siding is melting on thousands of homes: Why and what to do

It’s one of the most popular building materials on the market: vinyl siding. Millions of homeowners choose vinyl siding because it’s affordable and long-lasting, with no need to paint.¬†

Unfortunately, some people all over the country are seeing their siding melt and warp, leading to thousands of dollars in replacement costs.

Randy and Angela Scarth are among those homeowners. They can’t believe what is happening to the side of their home.

“It’s almost like a waving action as you look at the entire siding,” Randy Scarth said.

The siding is shriveling as if a flood had hit the house. But there was no water involved.

Reflected sunlight can do serious damage

A home inspector told them it is all because of concentrated sunlight from a neighbor’s window, a problem that worsens in the winter months when the sun is low in the sky.

“This window, the reflection coming off the window, is basically melting and deteriorating our siding,” Randy Scarth said.

Home inspector Reuben Saltzman comes across the issue during his inspections.

“We see it several times a year, ” he said.

He says the issue is typically caused by energy-efficient windows, which reflect more light than standard windows.

How to prevent this from happening

The solution is blocking or diffusing the reflection, Saltzman said. The easiest way to do that, he says, is to pay for your neighbors to put insect screens over the problem windows.

“My advice would be really nice to your neighbors. Maybe bring them over some drinks,” Saltzman said.

Other options include installing awnings over the windows or planting bushes or trees to block the reflection.

Matt Dobson is the vice president of the¬†Vinyl Siding Institute. He says once you find a way to block the reflection, you might not be stuck paying out-of-pocket for new siding, even if your homeowner’s insurance or home warranty doesn’t cover repairs.

“In many cases,” Dobson said, “the siding manufacturer will supply them with replacement siding to at least take care of it.”

Randy and Angela Scarth are appealing their insurance company’s denial of the $3,500 repair cost.

“It was considered to be normal wear and tear,” Randy Scarth said.

But the Scarths say this is not normal and want it fixed before the low winter sun causes more melting.

“It keeps getting worse,” he said.

We contacted their insurance company, which promised to re-examine their claim to replace the siding.