Yes, we know…
It’s not winter yet. Is it a little too early to talk about winter. ABSOLUTELY NOT!
With the official start of winter quickly approaching, it’s easy to get so caught up in the holiday season that all thoughts of home maintenance are pushed aside.
When it comes to making sure that your roof is prepared for the cold winter months, waiting isn’t an option. To keep your roof in good shape and prevent expensive weather-related repairs, it’s important to take steps to safeguard your home and protect your roof before the harsh weather hits.
How can you make sure that your roof is cold-weather ready? Below, we’ve listed the top nine essential things that you need to do before your roof is hit by the effects of winter:
While this may sound a little bit confusing, it really isn’t as difficult or mysterious as it seems. The flashings are the metal strips that are in place to keep water from leaking through areas such as edges, corners, and ridges. Sloped roofs, which are the most popular, often experience some water leaks through these flashings.
Obviously, they don’t always work to keep water out! Why do leaks happen?
Sometimes leaks occur because flashings simply weren’t installed properly; rather than being secured on tightly, they begin to pull away from the structure with time, leaving your roof with cracks where water can enter right into your structure. This isn’t always a case of faulty workmanship; in some situations, violent storms can also do damage to flashings and make them ineffective.
To make sure that your roof is going to survive the winter months without snow damage, it’s important to get up on your roof and check all the flashings to make sure that they are securely in place.
Flashings can be found around the front edge of the roof along with corners, any ridges, around the chimney, and protecting skylights. When you locate the flashings, make sure that they are securely in place and don’t show signs of damage. While loose flashing can be secured back to the roof, those that are damaged will probably need to be replaced.
Inspect the Roof Valleys
Didn’t know that your roof had a valley? It’s much more obvious than it seems!
When you have a house where two sections of sloped roof meet, they form a sort of funnel where water will runoff into the drainage system. This funnel area is called a “valley”. Just like the area between two mountains is called a valley, the area between two sections of sloped roof is called a valley as well.
While valleys are a great way to keep water running off of the roof, age and flaws in craftsmanship can leave these valleys damaged and open to leaks. In older houses, the paper that was used on roofs starts to disintegrate with time, while poor workmanship laying the shingles can make it possible for water to get in through cracks.
To keep your roof valleys in good shape and prepared for the winter weather, spend some time inspecting them and looking for areas where water is getting in past the shingles. Sometimes singles will need to be replaced so that they are no longer overlapping.
Always keep your valleys clean and work to rid them of any debris such as leaves and dirt that have collected over time. While the valleys help to run water off of the roof, they can easily become a catch-spot for debris that can ultimately cause damage.
Examine Roof Shingles
The shingles are in place to keep water and moisture out of the house, instead running the water off of the roof and down to the drain system. While shingles do an excellent job at keeping our houses dry and snug, there are times when shingles become damaged and are no longer able to repel water.
Rough weather can loosen shingles, making it easy for water to seep under them, while some elements can cause the shingles themselves to become so worn that they are no longer useful.
Before winter weather hits, check out your roof shingles and examine them for any sign of wear and tear. Loose shingles can generally be secured back in place, while shingles that are damaged will need to be replaced.
How do you recognize damaged shingles? Looking for missing granules on the surface of the shingle or signs of curling when the shingle should be flat.
Clear Away Debris
Roofs come in contact with all types of debris from fallen tree limbs to bird nests, leaves to tennis balls. Too often, it’s easy for us to turn a blind eye to the junk that comes in contact with our roof, gutters, and drains. We tend to think that, as long as it isn’t painfully obvious to the neighbors, it can probably go another day. But keeping your roof clean has more benefits than just appearance.
A clean roof is a healthier roof!
To winterize your roof, it’s important to take the time to remove all of the debris that has been collecting over the year. Check for debris in areas such as the roof valleys, gutter systems, spouts, and drains. Most of this work can easily be accomplished with a gloved hand and a ladder. Be sure to watch for any nearby power lines that you might come in contact with while you work.
Not a big fan of removing debris? If you don’t want to face more debris in the winter months, this is the perfect time to remove tree limbs that hang over the roof and are likely to fall during an ice storm or winter weather.
Check out the Gutters
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the one listed above. But good gutter repair goes beyond making sure that all the debris is gone. Gutters are an important part of any house since they work to collect rain water, travel it off of the roof, and then direct it away from the house.
A good gutter system not only keeps your roof in good condition, but helps to prevent water from damaging the foundation and surroundings. A poor gutter system is death and destruction for your entire home!
When you are winterizing your home, take the time to thoroughly inspect the gutters. While removing debris, give the system a look-over for holes and cracks that might cause problems. Consider running some water through the gutters as a test to look for leaks and blockages.
Also, make sure that the guttering is securely in place. If the guttering is loose, heavy water or snow may make it pull away from the roof, making it impossible for it to correctly carry water away from the structure. If you choose to secure the guttering now, you can prevent the likelihood of serious problems in the future. After all, wouldn’t you choose to fix it now rather than trying to tackle the job during a snow storm?
Does your roof have things like a chimney, plumbing stacks, vents, or antennas? If it does, then you need to check your sealant. When these objects are put in place, a thin strip of sealant is placed around them to prevent water from getting through the cracks and leaking into the house.
While sealant is necessary to keep a house from becoming water damaged, it is not invincible. Over time, sealers and caulks begin to wear away, leaving your roof susceptible to the elements.
Before winter hits, be sure to check around all of the items on the top of your roof and see if the sealer is still in good shape. Sealer that is wearing out and likely to leak will often appear cracked, loose, or no longer fresh. You can easily replace this sealant yourself, doing what is necessary to keep the house in good condition and prevent leaks from occurring.
Keep an Eye Out for Pests
Are you an animal lover? Most of us enjoy wildlife to some degree; however, cute animals such as squirrels and birds can quickly lose their charm when they wreak havoc on a roof.
Wildlife animals are very smart about finding places to stay warm during the winter months, and an overhang or valley in your roof may seem like the perfect place to make their new home. Rather than welcoming this as sweet guests, understand that these animals can cause some very expensive damage to the home.
With the cold winter months fast approaching, take in your roof and consider areas where animals might go to warm up. Also, look for areas where animals such as mice might have already made their homes. Rather than wait for the winter months to run them out, go on and remove any bedding they might have in place now so that they will have the chance to go find a warm place somewhere else.
Look Around the Attic
Is the attic somewhere that you want to go? If you’re like a lot of people, the answer is probably a resounding no! The attic is often a place where we store things and try to forget about them throughout the rest of the year. While it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the attic, if you want to keep your house in good condition, it’s important to face and examine this part of your home before the cold winter months strike. The attic is closely connected to the roof and does not only show early signs of leaks, but good attic inspections can also help your roof stay in good condition.
So, gather your courage and make a quick trip to the attic. Look around to make sure that insulation is evenly distributed throughout the entire top floor. Insulation is in place to not only keep heat inside the home where it will keep you warm but also to keep it from seeping out and becoming trapped under the roof shingles. When heat escapes the house through poor insulation, it can get caught under the shingles and cause what we call “ice dams”. These ice dams occur when snow melts and then freezes against your roof, causing significant damage to the structure. As you look over your attic, make sure that you take the necessary steps to locate any leaks and then work to prevent others by keeping insulation well-distributed.
Monitor Your Roof
Despite all of your best efforts to winterize your roof, sometimes problems will occur during the winter months. The harsh effects of winter can wreak havoc on even the best roof and things like icicles, heavy snows, and ice storms can cause serious damage. Too keep your roof in the best condition, continue to monitor it throughout the year. While it is not safe to try to tackle an icy roof alone, you can work to pinpoint problems and call a professional to resolve them before they get out of hand.
After you’ve completed the nine steps listed above, your roof should be winter-ready. Pat yourself on the back because you’ve done everything possible to keep leaks from attacking your home. By carefully examining your roof and then monitoring it for future problems, you can expect to have a safe, warm winter without any serious roofing issues.
Do You Need Help?
Is your roof in desperate need of some repair? Or do you need a new roof all-together? Here at Homemasters, we are passionate about helping home- and business-owners prepare for winter by safeguarding their homes. Our team of professionals will happily examine your roof and then help you to resolve any issues. Whether your roof needs a simple repair or an entire replacement, no job is too big for us to handle. Contact us today to set up an appointment.