Ensuring your roof is ready for the season is critical, especially if you live in an area with harsh winter weather – and even more critical if your roof isn’t in top condition. Before a minor roof problem becomes a major wintertime disaster, follow this who, what and why of preparing your roof for winter.
While you can identify many of the common problems with your roof on your own, hiring a qualified roofing contractor like PINNACLE GROUP Services is best to receive a complete check of the roof on your home or business and provide any necessary roof repairs.
You too can identify some signs that your roof needs repair. Check the areas around your home’s chimney and roof edges for loose materials, cracks and other signs of deterioration. Look for cracked shingles, inspect around skylights and be sure that your gutters are free of debris.
If you know of existing leaks coming from your roof, skylight or chimney, get them looked at and repaired immediately. These issues are easier to address when the weather is mild.
Removing debris from your gutters can drastically reduce ice dams. Making sure they are clean and water is flowing properly is paramount. It sounds simple but a clogged gutter can be extremely hazardous to your home.
While cleaning your gutters, keep your eyes peeled for shingle granules. They are a clear sign of serious wear and tear. Shingle granules look like coarse sand and may indicate that the tiles themselves are at the end of their lives.
Ice dams form when snow sits on the roof for a period of time and goes through a melt and freeze sequence. As the snow melts, water travels downward and then freezes when it reaches the eaves. If the roof is not properly vented and heat escapes through the shingles, it will start to melt the snow. When this sequence of melting and freezing happens over and over, the ice builds up and forms a dam at the edge. The best way to prevent an ice dam is to keep gutters clean and cautiously rake the snow from the edge of the roof off. It is easy to damage the shingles, which are cold and brittle during the time of year, so take care when doing this. Properly venting the attic will also help ensure that heat does not escape. Preventing an ice dam is difficult if you haven’t taken the proper steps to avoid them in the first place.
Just as important as the gutters being free of debris, drains and downspouts should also be clear. Ensure that vents in your kitchen and bathroom actually go outdoors and don’t just vent into your roof space. The result will be dampness where it doesn’t belong.
Be sure to look for anything on the roof that may be cracked, torn, broken or missing. Is your chimney in good shape? Leaning, cracking or missing chunks of mortar are red flags. Are there any broken or cracked tiles? Check your roof line and make sure it isn’t sagging or bending.
A flat roof is equally prone to damage and has less life span than a pitched roof. This is because water tends to sit on top rather than drain away. If the flat roof has been installed within the last five to ten years, it is typically sturdier and longer-lasting because of better building materials and methods. Check your flat roof by getting as close to it as you can. Small problems may be hard to spot but will cause a major headache if missed.
Monitoring your roof from the indoors is just as critical. Check your attic or roof space for areas that are sagging. Look for water damage and leaks. Dark spots and drips are typically dead giveaways that you have a roof leak. See if there is any light showing through from the outside. Check your joists for woodworm, dampness, fungus and rot.
Winter weather brings multiple stressors to any roof system. Snow accumulation, ice dams and high winds can cause major damage to homes and buildings. Lower-quality roofs and roofs over 20 years old have a greater likelihood of succumbing to harsh weather. This can result in minor leaks to major cave-ins that can cost thousands to repair.
Your roof may not appear to be problematic before snowfall but weak spots, invisible cracks and weathered surfaces are all susceptible to giving way under the weight of snow.
Roofers tend to be at their busiest during winter and, due to extreme temperatures and snow removal, it takes longer to get jobs done during this season. There is great value in early inspection.
Recommendation: It is recommended to have a licensed roofing contractor inspect your roof annually – at a minimum. This is generally done in either autumn or spring to prepare for the upcoming season and repair any roof damage caused by the previous season. While that may not be in your budget this year, there are some things you can do yourself.
Here are four simple tips to checking your roof over for upcoming winter months.
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