3 Ways To Get Your Roof Ready For Winter

As you imagine winter, thoughts of hot cocoa, toasty fires, and awesome new toys probably bounce through your mind. Unfortunately, if you waste away your autumn weekends watching football and dreaming of the holidays instead of preparing for the rigors of the cold season, it could be severely detrimental to your roof. Here are three ways to get your roof ready for winter, so you can avoid the hassles that damaged roofing can cause.

1: Clean Those Gutters

It may not sound like the most exciting chore to tackle on a Saturday afternoon, but cleaning your gutters is one of the best ways to prevent wintertime roof damage. Your rain gutters have the intense task of rerouting rainfall, melted snow, and small debris.

Unfortunately, that golden foliage that you adore so much in the fall can wreak havoc on your gutters. As dead leaves collect in your troughs and downspouts, they can create blockages, which can change the natural path that water takes as it exits your roof. Before winter hits, blockages can cause rain to pool near the eaves of your home, where it can leak under shingles and cause underlying roofing damage.

During winter, gutter blockages can cause even bigger issues. When water can't flow away from your home, it can freeze inside of gutters and cause massive ice buildups. Ice and snow can get heavy fast, which can actually rip your rain gutters away from your home, causing expensive damage.

In order to avoid all of these problems, do yourself a favor and clean out your rain gutters. By using a simple ladder and a pair of gloves, you can remove loads of debris from gutters in a few hours, which will prevent all kinds of problems.

2: Check That Flashing

Believe it or not, your shingles and rain gutters aren't the only roofing elements that keep water away from your house. Flashing is made of thin metal sheets that work to protect the foreign structures of your roof from water penetration.

In order for flashing to be effective, it has to fit the area around structures like chimneys and vents perfectly. Poorly installed flashing or areas that have become loose can allow water to trickle under shingles or into your attic, where it can cause deterioration and mold development.

Although most people overlook the importance of flashing, the fact of the matter is that up to 95% of roof leaks are thought to enter through damaged flashing details. If you want to keep your roof watertight this winter, check your flashing.

To spot problems, look for raised metal sheets or loose screws around your chimneys, windows, or vent work. Flashing should also be installed inside the valleys of your roof. If you find curled shingles in valleys, or flashing that doesn't look secured, work with a professional contractor to resolve the problem immediately.  

3: Prevent Ice Dams

As the warm air that your heater kicks out escapes through your roof, it can melt snow and ice and create dams on your roof. Ice dams are essentially large, glacier-like sheets of snow that slowly emanate over the edge of your roof. In addition to ripping away shingles, gutters, and flashing, these dams can also weigh a lot, which could cause serious problems like cave-ins.

Here are a few ways to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place.

  • Check Attic Insulation Levels: When heat doesn't leave your home as readily, ice dams are less likely to form. On average, your fiberglass attic insulation should be about 12-14 inches deep, and you should add more if you have less than 8 inches.
  • Buy a Roof Rake: Before snow has a chance to freeze into a solid mass and migrate off of your eaves, scape it away with a simple roof rake. These long-handled rakes cost about $35-$110, but can save you much more than that by helping you to keep ice dams at bay.

Although icicles and snowfall might look cool on your house, doing your best to keep ice dams from forming will keep you from expensive roof-damage surprises after the season ends.

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preparing your roof for harsh weather will help you to avoid the mayhem that trickling water or heavy ice can cause. Click here to read more or to find a professional to do repairs or perform an inspection.