Get Your Roof Ready for Winter: Tips to Prepare
With winter on the way, it is time to start thinking about preparing your home for the colder weather. One of the critical areas to focus on is your roof. A little bit of preparation now can go a long way in preventing problems down the road.
If you're like most homeowners, you take your roof for granted until it needs a little maintenance. But a worn or leaking roof could result in costly damage to your home. Before the weather turns cold, windy and icy, be sure to check on the condition of your roof and give it a good cleaning of any debris. You don't need to call in a professional if you can go up on your roof yourself, but you should inspect the roof regularly. Look for damaged shingles and check to see if any leaks are occurring.
We've compiled a list of tips to prepare your roof for winter and prevent damage.
Why Prepare Your Roof for Winter?
Living in Canada, we all know how harsh our winters get. With the heavy snowfall and fierce winds, your roof takes quite the beating during the coldest months of the year. Making sure your roof is in top condition before the extreme weather starts is always a good idea to avoid more significant damage to your roof that could have been avoided if caught beforehand.
Inspect Your Roof
A little bit of time and effort upfront will be well worth the investment if you catch something that might have gone unnoticed.
Look For Signs Of Damage
The first, easy step would be to look from street level to see if any extensive damage or worn-out shingles are noticeable. If this is the case, you should contact a roofing company to have them give a proper roof inspection. Putting this off for another winter might be a mistake you come to regret. If you already have small leaks or worn-out sheathing and plywood, the accumulation of the snow and ice that will build up during winter months could cause your small damage to become large and expensive damage.
Remember that you can't do a proper roof inspection from the ground as you won't catch everything. But it's an easy first step to take, as if you can see issues from the street, you can avoid going up yourself to check and instead contact a roofing contractor.
Inspect Your Shingles Carefully
Even if you don't see any large noticeable damage, there could still be issues that are only seen once carefully looking for them while on your roof. Some shingles could have been improperly installed, have become worn out, have come loose, or have nail pops. Nail pops are caused by the changing of hot and cold temperatures, which can cause your roofing nails to pop up and lift the shingles, so they aren't flush with your roof's surface. These are the first signs that your roof is at substantial risk of leaking if nothing is done to fix them.
Check Your Roof Flashing
If you aren't aware, roof flashing is thin galvanized steel installed on critical roof areas to redirect the water flow away from causing damage to high-risk areas. The most popular spots it's used are around chimneys to seal the area from the brick and the roof materials. Then also around vents, skylights or any vertical area that touches up against your roof like a wall or dormer. This helps protect any water from getting into crevices between these spots and your roof.
We don't want water piling up on flat surfaces and creating puddles and stagnant water. This will wear out the wood decking and cause leaks and holes.
So, look for any damage, improperly installed, or missing roof flashing in the critical areas discussed here.
Look Over Your Roof Valleys
Roof valleys are one of the most significant hot spots for water leaks. Roof valleys are the areas of your roof where two sloped sections meet. Water collects in between these two areas and is meant to flow down and off your roof. For the best protection, they need the proper material installed to prevent water from leaking into your home. Usually, either waterproof material is used or most commonly metal/steel.
So, before winter comes, you'll want to ensure there is no damage and that your valleys are adequately sealed and functioning correctly. Clear any debris piled up on them to ensure water flows smoothly down and off your roof. This will lead to less ice and weight building up during the winter.
Inspect Attic Space for Proper Ventilation and Insulation
While most of what you should be looking over on your roof is from the outside, remember to check your attic space from the inside.
The two main things you'll want to look for are your roof's ventilation and the attic's insulation.
Having both components working properly will save you a lot of money on your energy bills during the frigid winter months. Keeping your house warmer while protecting your roof from winter damage is a win-win!
Depending on your attic, walk through it during the day or have a flashlight and look for wet insulation, spots of sunshine beaming through or wet stains on the walls. If you find any of these issues, you may have cracks, holes or leaks in your roof that need to be looked at by a trusted roofing company or contractor. If you have holes in your roof, you could have wild animals or critters coming in and out or living in your attic, which nobody wants!
If you don't have adequate roofing ventilation, this can cause moisture to build up in your attic, which can cause mould and temperature control issues and ultimately lead to damage that will need repairing.
If your attic's temperature is not controlled, it can lead to melting and freezing snow and ice dams on your roof during the winter. So be sure to inspect your attic thoroughly for any problems.
Trim Trees Around Your Home
Keep an eye out for tree branches that have overgrown and are now overhanging above your roof. Tree branches can cause all types of issues during the Canadian winter snowstorms we get hit with multiple times a year.
First, even before winter arrives, tree branches over your roof will lead to more debris and leaves falling and building up on your roof.
But come winter, snow and ice will form on these branches, and the extra weight can cause them to snap off onto your roof. Depending on the size of the branches, they could inflict a lot of damage to your roof.
Another common issue most homeowners don't even think about with tree branches over your roof is that animals can use them to get onto your roof and into your attic. Like most of us, many animals don't like the wintry weather either! Finding shelter in a warm attic looks pretty appealing to them! If you have holes or improperly sealed areas and ventilation on your roof, they can find their way into your attic to set up shop during the cold nights and days winter brings.
So, stay diligent and trim those tree branches back during the warmer months before winter hits.
Keep Your Gutters Clean
Everybody knows clogged gutters are not good and can lead to problems any time of the year. But if your gutters stay clogged going into winter, that's one of the worst things you could let happen.
Clogged gutters will lead to ice dams forming on your roof when the temperature is below freezing in the winter.
An ice dam forms when ice and snow melt and freeze again right above your eavestroughs. This creates a dam that blocks water from draining down your gutters and off your roof. The water will pool on your roof and soak through over time, causing damage to the decking and wood.
So, if your gutters can't correctly flow water through them because of leaves and other debris, you're at substantial risk come winter for having ice dams form from the water backing up with nowhere to go.
Ice damns cause massive damage to your roof and is one of the most popular issues that roofs have happened to them during wintertime.
Either make sure to clean them out towards the end of fall after all the leaves have fallen off trees, or even better, install gutter guard protection to never have clogged gutters or the need to clean them again.
Make Repairs Or Replacements To Any Of The Damage You Find
Don't be one of those homeowners that finds small problems, and you think they are minor and can put them off and deal with them later. It's best to stay on top of roof maintenance, as annoying as it may be. We know homeowners don't love spending time and money on their roofs, but it's a necessity in life that comes with owning a home. It can also save you a lot of money, headaches and stress if you deal with things early when you first catch them.
We here at Gerry's Roofing & Siding Inc have been working on roofs for over 40 years and counting. We've seen it all when it comes to winter roof damage.
If you're looking for a company you can trust to provide you with an honest assessment and quality workmanship, get in touch with us today to see how we can help solve your roofing problems.