When winterizing your house, don’t forget your roof — it can be a costly mistake if you do. Many of the following tips are do-it-yourself tasks. But if you need assistance, your local top-rated roofing company can help.
A roof that’s ready for harsh winter weather is an important part of winterizing a home. You can prevent expensive repairs caused by ice dams and leaks by performing routine roof maintenance before winter sets in.
Make Sure Shingles are in Good Shape
If you don’t fix damaged, missing, or loose shingles before winter, you’ll get water damage. A broken shingle will let water seep underneath and eventually get into your home. Winds can blow loose shingles away if they’re loose.
You can probably replace a few damaged shingles yourself if they’re easy to reach. Otherwise, you should consider hiring a professional roofer if your roof is damaged in multiple areas and you don’t feel comfortable working on it yourself.
Take Care of Damaged Flashing
Keeping a roof well-maintained means keeping the flashing in good shape. Water is diverted from some areas of your roof by metal flashing. Don’t forget to inspect roof valleys and overhangs around the chimney. Ensure they’re in good shape and won’t leak, because ice dams usually form in roof valleys and overhangs in the winter.
It’s easy to repair or replace flashing yourself if you’re comfortable and take safety precautions. However, think about hiring a 5-star roofing company if you don’t know what you’re doing. The cost of a roof inspection is well worth it for many homeowners.
Caulking Might Need Replaced
There is caulking or sealant around vent pipes, chimneys, and counter-flashing, the latter of which is sheet metal that goes between walls and roofing. That caulking should be checked. By channeling water away from the joint, it prevents water from getting inside.
If caulking is old and dry, it can separate or crack in the winter when the weather and roof materials get ice cold. Your roof’s critical joints will stay dry and watertight with new caulking, which expands and contracts with the cold and warm weather.
As soon as caulking is fully cured, it’s supple and retains its seal better. Don’t forget to remove old caulking first. Make sure you don’t puncture or penetrate the flashing or roofing membrane below it with the tool you’re using. Getting on the roof to re-caulk can be an easy do-it-yourself project for some homeowners.
Also, use a top-rated caulking or sealant.
Get Familiar with a Roof Rake
Keep your roof clear of snow with a roof rake. After several inches of snowfall that continues building for hours or days and nights on-end, homeowners may want to consider raking certain areas of their roof. By keeping the snow off the cold overhangs, you allow runoff (snow melted by the warmer part of your roof) to safely flow off the roof instead of freezing and causing ice dams.
Invest in a plastic roof rake or one with rollers so you don’t rub the granules off your shingles. Consider replacing your roof rake if it doesn’t have rollers or if it doesn’t work like it used to.
Roof rakes are easy to use. Just be careful with icicles, and inspect the roof for loose shingles or flashing to make sure you don’t inflict any unnecessary damage.
Trim Nearby Tree Branches
When the winter snow, ice, and winds come, trimming the trees around your roof can help avoid roof damage. You should trim overhanging branches off those trees, even though you love them. It only takes one bad snowstorm to break a branch over your house, causing significant damage.
You may want to consider hiring someone who’s trained to do this. Some branches are too high for the average do-it-yourself homeowner to reach, depending on the home.
Utilize the Power of a Heat Cable
In areas where ice dams have been a problem in the past, such as gutters and downspouts, this is especially helpful. Most homeowners can easily install heat cables in gutters and downspouts if it’s a one-story house.
Ventilate Your Attic Better
To prevent ice dams on the roof, the attic needs to be ventilated properly. Put a piece of light tissue paper up against the exhaust vents and close all “ingress” openings — areas where damp penetration occurs. If you observe a lack of air movement, this means either you don’t have enough ventilation or your intake vents are blocked by insulation.
You can increase your roof vents and remove any insulation that’s blocking them to improve attic ventilation. A jigsaw and caulking gun are all you need for this do project. Nonetheless, a local roofing company near you can usually take care of this project as well.
Increase Insulation or Upgrade It
Check your attic for missing or damaged insulation, which can cause ice dams. It’s easy for heat to transfer from inside your home to your attic because there’s not enough insulation. Snow melts when hot air meets the roof deck. When the temperature drops at night, the melted snow freezes.
If you’re motivated enough, adding or replacing insulation is definitely doable.
Make Sure Gutters and Downspouts are Clean
You need to clean your gutters and downspouts before winter, even though they’re not technically part of the roof. By clearing them, you can prevent clogging from pine needles, tree leaves, and grime. When a storm hits, moisture won’t overtake your roof like so many others. Otherwise, water-logged rotting and leaks can occur.
Additionally, ice accumulation around gutters and eaves can cause an ice dam, which blocks roof drainage and leads to a freeze-thaw cycle that separates shingles from roof decks and lets in moisture.
If you’ve got a one-story house and want to take safety precautions, you can clean your gutters and downspouts yourself. Make sure you buy the right tool that’s best for your situation. But it’s best to hire a professional for houses with two stories or more.
Repair Wind Damaged Areas
Don’t underestimate the power of wind when it comes to wintertime roof maintenance. It’s just as bad as rain if a major storm hits your area. Repair any spots on your roof that might have been damaged by wind. Look for shingles that are missing, broken, or damaged.
Your home is susceptible to leaks if you don’t fix leaky spots. Those spots will also breed bacteria, mold, and mildew. If your roof is tearing away from the wind, contact the best-rated roofing company near you.
Get an Inspection by a Professional
Some roof maintenance tasks you can do yourself. But if you really want your home to be in good shape for the winter, you should hire a licensed roof inspector near you. When choosing the best roofing contractor, remember to look at history, documentation, reviews, and more.
Not only will you save some pain on your spine and ensure your safety, you’ll also have peace of mind knowing everything has been checked and fixed properly. For anything difficult or dangerous, or if you’re not sure how to do it yourself, contact Keystone Roofing and Siding.