The roof is your home’s first line of defense against winter. But if you don’t take the necessary steps to prepare your roof, winter can leave it with plenty of damage.
Ice and snow buildup can cause major issues that compromise the integrity of your roof and reduce your home’s overall value. The freeze/thaw cycle, the strong winds that blow off shingles, the buildup of snow, and the ice dams that form all threaten the condition of your roof.
Here are some preventative steps to help you prepare your roof for winter.
Don’t let snow pile up.
Roofs are designed and built with a certain load-bearing capacity. If there is too much snow on your roof, it could collapse. Roof collapse due to snow and ice is most common in older homes with weakened roofs and in those with flat roofs.
If you hear creaking or cracking sounds from your roof, notice sagging or dropping ceiling tiles, find leaks or water stains on your ceilings or walls, notice ice blockages in your gutter, or have difficulty getting windows and doors to open, your roof may be accumulating too much snow.
To keep your roof from collapsing due to snow buildup, use a tool called a roof rake to clear the roof. Use the roof rake when the level of snow on your roof exceeds a foot in height and after every heavy snowfall or storm.
Clear the gutters and downspouts before winter comes
If your gutters are clogged, ice can build up, get too heavy, and rip your gutters away from the roof.
Before snow starts to fall or temperatures start to dip into freezing, check all gutters, gulleys, drains, and downspouts. Clear them of accumulated leaves, twigs, silt from the shingles, and other debris so that rainwater and snowmelt can flow freely. Make sure that the ends of your downspouts are clear of debris and other obstructions.
If your gutters and downspouts are already filled with ice, contact a roofing professional to chip the ice away. Don’t do it yourself as the task can be dangerous and lead to expensive damage.
Make sure the attic is cold.
Ice dams build up when snow from the upper parts of your roof melt and flow down to the lower parts, where it refreezes. The ice dam that forms causes water to pool in these lower areas. Pooling water can seep through tiny cracks in the roof and damage the walls and ceilings of your home.
To prevent ice dams, you should make sure that your attic is properly insulated. Check your attic’s insulation and ventilation well before winter starts.
Once all the snow has melted off, it’s time to call your local roofers and schedule a roof inspection. Have them check your roof for snow and ice damage. Even small cracks can lead to leaks and extensive water damage.
If your roof is in good shape, it should be able to survive winter just fine. But since prevention is always better than cure, you should make sure that your roof is ready for winter and anything it may throw your way.