Old Man Winter is coming. And he’s bringing his buddies: frigid temperatures, harsh winds, and, of course, freezing rain, snow, and ice. Is your roof prepared for these unwelcome and potentially hazardous houseguests?
Follow these steps for winter roof preparation:
Before winter weather hits, conduct a thorough inspection of your roof. “Take note of any damage that you see, and also remember to check inside the home,” writes Larry Smith, who works for a roofing repair company in Virginia, in an article for PIPE.TA Home Improvement Tips and Advice. Wet spots on the ceiling could indicate roof leaks, for example.
Also “look for cracks, broken shingles, blistered shingles, cracked flashing and anything that could potentially lead to further damage,” Smith advises. If possible, inspect the rafters and underside of your roof, too.
After you’ve completed your inspection, make any necessary repairs before snow, ice, and wind exacerbate the problems.
“If the damage is serious enough, you may need to think about getting your roof replaced,” Smith warns. If this is the case, he recommends considering a roofing material other than standard asphalt shingles. Metal roofs, for example, are becoming popular “for their low maintenance, durability, and light weight,” he writes.
Make It Waterproof
Take this crucial step to keep rain or melting ice and snow from damaging your roof. Ideally you should consider waterproofing under the shingles when installing a new roof or repairing an old one, but you can apply waterproof compounds on top of the existing shingles as well. “This can be done by using a roller to roll the compounds onto the top of the shingles,” Smith writes.
Clean the Gutters
Did you know that “clogged gutters are one of the most common causes of roof damage,” according to Smith? While this is a chore that should be performed as part of your regular home maintenance routine, cleaning out your gutters is especially critical just before winter, as any water or debris that’s stuck in them during the cold season is likely to freeze and create further problems. In fact, “ice in gutters and downspouts is virtually impossible to remove without causing roof damage or harming the gutters themselves,” according to an article for HomeAdvisor.
If you want to avoid the headache of having to repair your gutters or roof from winter-weather damage, clear your gutters of debris like leaves and sticks before any snow and icy conditions hit. “Try to keep them clean throughout the winter as well, as they can back up quickly, and cause damage to the roof before you have a good idea that anything is happening,” Smith writes. “Make sure that all gutters are fastened and all drains take the water away from the house.”
Fix Caulking Problems
A properly sealed roof will decrease the chances of it being damaged by melting ice and snow in the winter. “Caulking can keep small amounts of water from running into cracks and potentially damaging the roof and areas underneath it,” according to Smith. Be sure to check all of the caulking on your roof during your inspection, sealing any cracks and seams with fresh caulk as needed.
“Make sure that the caulking that you choose to fix these issues with is approved for use on roofs and with the materials that your roof is made from,” Smith advises.
Check and Repair Flashing
Flashing is crucial for sealing and waterproofing areas on the roof “where the plane is interrupted,” such as around chimneys, skylights, and plumbing vents, according to Smith. To protect your roof from water damage, thoroughly inspect and make any necessary repairs to these areas before snow and ice start accumulating.
“Look for areas where water might be getting in—gaps, bent flashing, holes made by roofing nails, etc.,” suggests this how-to article for DIY Network. “Flashing is your main defense against leakage, so you want to make sure it is securely fastened and that there are no holes or gaps.” If you find any holes or gaps, remove any old adhesive or caulk and seal them with new roofing caulk.
Taking the aforementioned steps for winter roof preparation can prevent much of the damage caused to roofs by winter-weather conditions. If you lack the experience, ability, or willingness to inspect and repair your roof yourself, consider hiring a professional to help you winterproof it. After all, winter is rough enough without having to deal with roof repairs in the middle of a blizzard or an ice storm.
Of course, even if you take all the necessary precautions, there’s always a chance your roof could be damaged during a bad winter storm. In this case, Smallwood and Small can give you financial protection and peace of mind. Call us today at 304-263-3361 to learn more about our homeowners’ insurance policies, or visit our homeowners’ insurance page for a quick quote.
Photo Credit: Timo Newton-Syms. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.