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November 6, 2023

Preparing Your Roof for Winter: 5 Essential Maintenance Tips

As winter approaches, homeowners are getting ready to face the challenges of cooler temperatures, falling leaves and debris, snowfall, and freezing conditions. One key aspect of winter preparedness that often gets overlooked is roof maintenance. 

Along with the rest of your home’s exterior building envelope, your roof is an important line of defense against the harsh elements of winter. Neglecting routine weatherizing can lead to costly damage and repairs. 

To protect your home and ensure that your roof is ready for whatever winter has up its sleeve, we’ve created a “Top Five” checklist of essential homeowner tips you can act on now to prepare your roof for the winter months.

  1. Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts: Start your winter roof maintenance by cleaning out your gutters and downspouts. Leaves, debris, and dirt can accumulate in your gutters, causing blockages. When melted snow can’t flow freely, it can lead to ice dams that can damage your roof and eaves. Use a ladder and gloves to remove debris, ensuring your gutters are clear.
  2. Trim Overhanging Tree Branches: Overhanging tree branches can pose a significant risk to your home during winter storms. Heavy snow and ice can cause branches to break and damage your home and roof. Trim any branches that hang over your house to prevent potential disasters.
  3. Inspect Your Attic: No matter the season, it is always a good idea to periodically check your attic for any signs of water leaks, especially after heavy rain or snow. Early detection of leaks can prevent significant damage to your roof and the interior of your home. While you are checking your attic for leaks, look at the insulation and the ventilation in your attic. Adequate insulation and ventilation can save you hundreds of dollars in heating costs throughout the winter.
  4. Conduct a Visual Inspection of Your Roof: Inspect your roof from a safe distance, looking for any vegetative growth or damaged or missing shingles. Moss and algae can retain moisture and exacerbate roofing problems. Damaged and missing shingles can allow moisture to penetrate the roof, leading to leaks and structural damage. If you notice moss or algae growth or broken and missing shingles, contact a professional roofer to confirm that the roof is compromised and needs cleaning or repairs.
  5. Clear Snow Safely: Once winter sets in, you might need to clear snow from your roof to prevent excessive weight and ice dams. However, be cautious when removing snow, as doing it incorrectly can damage your shingles. Use a roof rake or ask the professional who usually clears snow for you if they also remove excess snow from roofs.

If I do need to hire a roofing professional, what might they suggest? 

While you can perform many winter maintenance tasks yourself, it’s essential to have your roof professionally inspected annually, preferably in the fall. A certified roofer can identify hidden issues and recommend necessary repairs or replacements. Here are a few items you might not know about that we frequently recommend to our customers:

  • Evaluate Flashing and Sealant: Sealing gaps and cracks in the flashing, vent pipes, or other roof components with caulk or roofing cement is routine maintenance that prevents water infiltration. Flashing and sealant are crucial to prevent water infiltration around roof penetrations such as chimneys, vents, and skylights. We routinely inspect these areas for any signs of damage or deterioration and reseal or repair them as needed to prevent leaks. 
  • Invest in Roof Heating Cables: For those in areas with frequent heavy snowfall, we suggest installing roof heating cables along your eaves to prevent ice dams. These cables help melt snow and ice, keeping your roof free from damage. If you decide to invest in this upgrade, make sure you consult a roofing professional to ensure that the installation doesn’t void your warranty.

By following our “Top Five” checklist of essential maintenance tips, you can prepare your roof for the challenges of winter. Proper roof maintenance not only extends the life of your roof but also helps you avoid costly repairs and potential damage to your home. Don’t wait until winter is in full swing; start preparing your roof today to enjoy a cozy and worry-free season.