There’s never a good time for a homeowner to have to deal with a leaking roof. Once it happens, the damage can spread to a home’s attic and walls very quickly. It’s exactly this kind of secondary damage that makes a roof leak such a costly and dreaded home repair problem.
The winter season can amplify the difficulties of a leaking roof, complicating repairs and making damage assessment and detection a nightmare. That’s why it’s vital for every homeowner to do whatever they can to prepare their roof for winter to prevent leaks and damage throughout the season. If you’re a homeowner and aren’t sure what steps to take to protect your roof this winter, here’s a rundown of what you should do.
The first thing that you’ll need to do to make sure that your roof is ready for winter is to check it thoroughly to make sure that it’s not already showing signs of damage. Check inside your attic and look for any signs of water infiltration. This can include mold or mildew, warped rafters or joists, or stained insulation. If you find any of these things in your attic, you’re going to need a professional to conduct an inspection to find the source of the damage before it becomes a bigger problem.
Clean Your Roof and Gutters
Standing debris on your roof, such as fallen tree limbs and leaf buildup can damage your shingles and lead to a leak. If your gutters are blocked, they will be unable to carry water away from your home to keep it dry. To address this you’ll need to clean your roof and gutters to avoid any potential damage. To do so, you can invest in a roof rake (which will be handy during the winter as well) to remove debris from the ground, or you can use a ladder to climb up to the roof to sweep it and the gutters clean. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you can hire a handyman or roofing company to do it for you.
Check Attic Insulation
Many homeowners aren’t aware that improper attic insulation can lead to a leaking roof. This can happen if the heated air from your home is allowed to escape into the attic. When that occurs, it rises to the roofline and causes any accumulated winter snow to begin to melt. When the melted snow refreezes, it can create ice dams that trap water on the roof, leading to leaks. A home’s vulnerability in this area needs to be addressed before snow begins to fall, as ice dams aren’t always easy to detect until it’s too late.
Trim Overhanging Trees
If there are trees on your property that extend above your roof, you should trim them back to the greatest extent possible. Doing so will prevent damage from branches falling onto your roof when they become frozen or heavily laden with snow. If this does happen during the winter, it can also be a challenge to have them removed due to hazardous conditions created by ice and snow. This is an area where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Prepare to Remove Snow
Once winter sets in, you should be prepared to remove any excessive now buildup from your roof whenever necessary. Using the roof rake that you purchased to clean debris, you can push snow off of your roof to prevent damage. You should never do this by yourself, and always have someone to help you to act as a spotter to keep you safe from any potentially falling snow. This is vital maintenance because, in addition to leaks, snow buildup can exceed the load capacity of your roof and cause it to collapse.
Stay Safe, Dry, and Warm
Once you’ve done the required preventative maintenance, you can expect your roof to hold up throughout the winter. Your home should stay warm and dry for the whole season. Preventing even a single leak is worth all of your efforts, given the costs involved, and isn’t very difficult at all. Now that you know what to do, you’ll be ready to enjoy your home all winter long.