The cold, snowy days of winter can take a heavy toll on your home’s roofing system if you don’t take proper precautions. From standing water caused by melting snow to ice dams forming along the eaves, winter weather brings many threats that can compromise the integrity of your roof. However, with careful maintenance, you can help your roof stand strong against whatever winter tosses its way.
Inspect and Repair Before Winter Sets In
Your best defense against winter roof damage is a good offense. Take a close look at your roof to spot any existing trouble areas or weaknesses before the winter months set in. Check for missing, cracked, or loose shingles and repair them promptly to prevent leaks. Pay close attention to chimneys, skylights, and vents where leaks often emerge.
Scan for signs moisture is infiltrating the roof system and address any damp spots, stains, or mold growth right away. Also, ensure all roof flashing is properly sealed with no gaps or tears. Take care of any necessary roof repairs before the winter months arrive so your roof enters the season in optimal shape.
Keep Gutters and Downspouts Flowing Freely
Clogged gutters can lead to a cascading series of winter roofing failures. When gutters fill with leaves and debris, melted snow has nowhere to drain. Instead, it pools in gutters and can back up under shingles or cause rotting fascia boards.
Make gutter maintenance a priority by cleaning them at least twice per year, including right before winter. Also regularly check downspouts and use a hose to wash out any accumulated grit and dirt. Free-flowing gutters carry water safely off your roof, preventing costly ice dams and water damage.
Guard Against Destructive Ice Dams
One of winter’s most dangerous threats to roofs is ice dam formation. Ice dams occur when melted snow refreezes near unheated roof overhangs, causing a thick blockage of ice on the edge of the roof that traps more melting snow behind it. This water backs up under shingles, leading to decay, leaks, and structural damage. The best way to combat ice dams is prevention through proper roof insulation and ventilation.
Ensure insulation in your attic meets or exceeds building code specifications for your region to minimize snow melting on the roof’s surface. Proper attic ventilation also optimizes airflow and removes heat to keep the roof cold and reduce melting. As a preventative measure against ice dams, install waterproof membranes along eaves and valleys. If ice dams do emerge, act quickly to carefully remove snow and ice near roof edges. Never use sharp tools that can further damage shingles.
Clear Snow Buildup Promptly and Properly
Heavy accumulations of snow should be cleared off roofs regularly to avoid collapse and damage under extremely heavy loads. Use a roof rake with an extension handle to remove snow safely from the ground without risking a dangerous ladder climb. Always clear wide strips, starting from the edge and working horizontally across the roof instead of clearing only isolated spots.
Attempt to rake snow off the roof frequently during heavy snowfalls rather than allowing feet of snow to pile up. Take extra care around vents, chimneys, skylights, and other vulnerable areas prone to wearing or cracking under the immense weight of snow. Avoid causing harm to shingles by using only plastic roof rakes and high-quality push brooms. Shoveling snow off roofs or using metal tools risks significant shingle damage.
Address Leaks Quickly to Avoid Further Wear
Winter precipitation coupled with freeze/thaw cycles means leaks can spring up at any time during the cold season. Often it starts slowly with mere damp spots on ceilings that can be easily ignored or mistaken for condensation. But even small leaks should be repaired immediately before they develop into sizable water damage. Catching problems early is always best for your roof and your wallet, as extended moisture incursion rot boards, decays insulation, and requires full section replacements. Don’t dismiss subtle damp spots – monitor suspect areas for spreading moisture. Bring in professional roof repair experts at the very first sign of a leak. A fast response prevents further roof deterioration.
Ensure Proper Insulation for a Warm, Dry Roof
Heat loss through your roof accounts for a major portion of home heating expenses and winter weather can amplify the effects of inadequate insulation. Beyond increased energy bills, insufficient insulation lets roof sheathing cool significantly, causing snow to melt and refreeze along the cold eaves and facilitating ice dam development.
Make sure your attic insulation meets the modern code requirements for your region – generally R-38 or more in colder climates. Inadequate insulation should be supplemented with additional blown-in materials for optimal energy efficiency and roof protection. Properly insulating keeps warm air inside heating living spaces rather than escaping to the cold roof surface. Consult an insulation specialist to determine if your levels are sufficient.
Ventilation Deters Winter Weather Threats Too
In addition to keeping heat inside your living spaces where it belongs, a well-ventilated attic removes any warmer air from reaching your roof’s cold under-surface. Effective ventilation maintains cooler attic temperatures to minimize snow melting from below.
Roof system ventilation specs vary by building codes and climate zones, but generally, a ratio of 1 square foot of vent space per 150 square feet of attic floor space is recommended. Work with a reputable contractor to ensure your specific roof meets guidelines based on your region’s seasonal weather patterns. Proper ventilation works together with insulation to prevent ice dams by keeping the roof deck consistently cold.
With diligent maintenance and prompt response to any issues arising, your roof can withstand almost anything winter throws its way. Commit now to making roof care a priority so your home stays safe, warm, and dry even during winter’s harshest months. Your home deserves a roof ready to stand strong against winter storms – ensure yours is equipped to pass the test with flying colors. The roofing professionals at Lednor Home Solutions have experience with your climate and roofs just like yours and they can help you prepare for the winter. Schedule a free estimate.