As the cold weather rolls in, every homeowner should turn their attention to winterizing their roof against heavy snow, ice dams, and other seasonal damage. Implementing preventative care and diligent inspections now will pay dividends through a durable, long-lasting roof that withstands winter’s punishing effects.
Proper winter care can extend your roof’s longevity, preventing costly repairs down the road. This comprehensive winter roof maintenance guide explores best practices for keeping your roof in peak condition when the temperatures drop.
Follow these winter care tips to maintain roof integrity when you need it most:
Control Ice Dam Formation
Ice dams form when snow accumulation starts melting from heat escaping the home’s attic space. This meltwater then refreezes at the roof edge, preventing further drainage and causing a backup under shingles. Left unchecked, ice dams enable leaks, rot, and structural issues in the roof.
Installing roof rakes allows the removal of excess snow before it melts and refreezes. Apply adhesive membrane or ice barrier underlayment in vulnerable areas so the ice has trouble forming an anchoring bond. Finally, regularly clear leaf debris from gutters and test downspouts to facilitate drainage.
Insulate Attics and Ceilings
Attics act as buffers between living spaces and the roof. Insufficient insulation allows indoor heat to reach the roof’s underside, leading to snowmelt and ice dams. Ensure attics and ceilings contain enough evenly distributed, fluffy insulation to meet your climate zone’s recommendations. Top off existing insulation to the recommended R-value if needed. Attic insulation of at least R-49 will do a better job of holding in warm air.
Inspect and Repair Roof Shingles
The expansion and contraction roof shingles undergo during winter subjects them to new stresses. Temperature fluctuations, snow weight, and ice dams strain roofing shingles over the winter.
Inspect all roof surfaces in the fall for cracked, warped, or missing shingles needing replacement before heavy snow arrives. Look for protective mineral granule loss and exposed nail heads needing resealing too. Addressing damage promptly better equips shingles to endure winter extremes.
Clear Gutters and Downspouts
When rain gutters fill with leaves in autumn, winter snowmelt has no open drainage path off the roof. Water backups wet fascia, flashings, and roof sheathing while raising ice dam risks. Make sure gutters stay clear through fall and regularly test downspouts for flow. Divert gutter discharge away from the foundation too. Proper drainage prevents avoidable moisture issues in the foundation and siding of the home.
Trim Back Overhanging Trees
While picturesque, mature trees too close to the home threaten the roof when laden with winter snow and ice. Weak, over-extended branches readily break, potentially causing serious damage. Survey trees near the house and strategically trim back branches that could fracture under snow weight this winter. Remove any broken limbs found dangling over the roof as well.
Tackle Small Repairs
Though critical for roof longevity, small issues often get dismissed for later handling. Heading into winter, address minor repairs like sealing exposed nail heads, re-attaching loose shingles, patching leaks, or toggling up sagging gutters. Small preventative fixes now prevent accelerated deterioration when harsh weather arrives. Tackle bigger issues needing professional intervention too.
Reinforce Vulnerable Areas
Certain roof areas endure more extreme winter weather than others. Reinforce vulnerable zones like valleys, eaves, low-slope sections, and chimneys against ice dams and snow load with adhesive membrane underlayments. Slope roofs for proper drainage. Install protective metal flashings around chimneys, skylights, and vents too. An ounce of preparation in the right places saves major headaches.
Inspect Roofs Regularly
While tackling noticeable issues before winter hits, examining the roof closely at least twice annually remains essential. Spring and fall roof inspections better equip homeowners to identify and address small problems before they compound into major repairs.
If unable to safely access the roof yourself, or if you’re unsure of your ability to spot roofing issues, hire certified professionals to undertake thorough assessments and recommend necessary work. While vigilant DIY maintenance helps preserve your roof, an annual professional roof inspection lends an experienced eye to spot concerns early before they intensify. Certified roofers determine repair needs, identify leak sources, and advise on best winter care practices for your roof type and climate. They can also safely access tricky portions of pitched roofs using proper safety precautions.
Brace for Damage Control
Despite rigorous roof preparation, unexpected damage still arises after high wind, heavy snow, and ice storms. Store a winter roof repair kit containing plywood, tarps, nails, melting compound, shovels, patch materials, gloves, and other rapid response items where readily accessible. This allows temporary protection until proper fixes after storms pass. Don’t let small holes lead to extensive interior water damage. Preparedness pays.
Enhance Roof Ventilation
Proper attic and roof ventilation alleviate damaging moisture accumulation over time, especially with ice dams and snow piling up outside vents. Ensure existing vents remain unblocked going into winter while staying alert to condensation buildup. Consider adding more vents or special snow-resistant vent models if concerned about adequate airflow. Preventing attic moisture improves roof lifespan.
Hire Storm Damage Experts
Once intense winter weather impacts the roof, reputable local roofing contractors can conduct inspections immediately after a storm if you observe leaks, structural issues, or extensive damage. Trying temporary fixes yourself often worsens problems or voids roof warranty coverage. Let qualified storm damage experts properly identify and resolve all repair needs. Documentation also aids insurance claims later.
Implement a Weather Protection Plan
For homes frequently plagued by extreme winter weather damage, develop strategic multi-year plans addressing vulnerable areas. This may involve completely replacing roofing, improving attic insulation, removing hazardous trees, installing protective membranes, or drainage solutions to tackle identified weaknesses. Custom plans enhance roof resilience while providing peace of mind when facing the elements.
Guard What Lies Beneath
As the first line of defense sheltering your home, durable roofs able to withstand winter’s ravages prove essential. Follow these preventative care and maintenance tips so your roof enters the cold season ready to stand strong. Address lingering issues now before snow, ice, wind, and frigid temperatures arrive. Implement smart winter-proofing for maximum roof longevity through whatever weather lies ahead. Protect what lies beneath this season by properly caring for invaluable overhead shelter.
If you need repairs, a professional inspection, or professional guidance after a storm, the roof experts at Lednor Home Solutions have the skills and experience to help. Contact them to schedule a free estimate.