As a homeowner, your biggest wish is that the roof will protect and insulate your home during winter. However, the roof, which has the major role of protecting the home during the worst weather, suffers most. As such, starting in the fall, you must have a solid plan for maintaining your roof. And when winter knocks, you’ll have fewer worries. Here are 10 helpful winter roofing tips for homeowners.
1. Pre-Winter Inspection
Pre-winter inspection is one of the winter roofing tips for homeowners. And if you prepare earlier, you’ll have gotten into the right path because rushing things can result in poor workmanship. Fortunately, observing a few things during fall can tell whether winter will be extremely or slightly harsh.
So, you notice the wooly worm population increasing and squirrels getting busier storing food. On the other end, fog starts to appear, and persimmon seeds increase around the region; if you have grown in downstate or central Illinois, you know persimmon seeds signal the winter will be harsh. Falling leaves are the norm that winter is approaching, but once you notice hedge apples on the ground, prepare for the pre-winter inspection because the weather may be unforgiving.
Preventative maintenance is vital all year round, but fall roof repairs will help your roof withstand harsh winter weather. So, designate roof maintenance personnel to perform roof inspections and repairs in the middle or end of the fall. Prepare a maintenance checklist to ensure you get your money’s worth through inspections and repairs. The following are important issues or areas to check:
- Debris – trash, leaves, or plants on the roofing surface
- Surface damage – sun, rains, and winds weaken the roof surface
- Drainage issues – even after drying, you can see marks of pooled water formed during the last rainy season
- Rooftop units and equipment – inspected HVAC units, hatches, and skylights
- Flashing – check for gaps around the flashing
- Interior – inspect the gypsum for any water leakages
Monitor foot traffic after the inspection and repairs to keep your roof safe throughout the winter. Prevent unauthorized people from accessing the roof by locking the hatches. If window washers and other service providers have to use the roof, check the roof condition afterward. In case their equipment causes damage to the roofing, have it repaired immediately.
2. Keep the Gutters Clean
Cleaning the gutters is the second in the winter roofing tips for homeowners. During winter, your roof will come into contact with much water because as the snow falls, it melts and turns into water. Afterward, it finds its way through the gutters to the drainage pipes. Unfortunately, if the gutters are blocked, the roofing surface will suffer damage.
As the debris settles on the gutters, some enter and clog the downpipe. The clogged areas are colder because more water accumulates around. And in the end, the water freezes, completely booking even the tiny spaces that can allow drainage. As a result, the water pools around the roofing surface.
Once water pools on the roof surface, it can lead to mold growth, rusting, and seeping into the interiors to cause basement flooding. Rusting will reduce your roof’s lifespan, and hiring a metal roofing company for new installation can drain your pocket. A clogged gutter can also be a breeding space for pests like mosquitoes, especially when the area pools during winter. Reducing the debris weight on the gutter will also save your home’s fascia from damage as water adds more weight.
Hiring a roofing professional to take care of your gutters will save you a lot of stress. Professionals come with all the tools and equipment for roof cleaning, like an extension ladder, hand trowel, standoff stabilizer, spray nozzle, dust masks, tarp, goggles, and rubber gloves. Investing in these items can cost you a huge amount of cash, and you may not have the knowledge to clean the gutter professionally.
3. Trim Overhanging Branches
While you may blame the wind for bringing the debris from the neighborhood to your home, your yard can contribute much to clogging your gutters and messing up the roofing surface. Additionally, the tree branches can damage the roofing if heavy snow falls during winter. But this matter needs a detailed explanation because trees come with various risks.
First, clearing trees planted less than 10 meters is one of the major winter roofing tips for homeowners. Those branches hanging over your roof can cause significant damage if winter storms are strong enough to knock them down on the rooftop. Fallen branches exert pressure on the roof, causing the roofing frames to break or sag. You might be lucky if the roof frames are strong enough to withstand the impact, but the shingles will not be spared.
Falling branches cause dents or break the shingles. Sometimes the branches can break the shingles and picture the underlayment and decking. This creates a path for water to enter and pool in the interior. On the other hand, branches may be strong enough to withstand the storm, but they will shed the leaves, blocking the gutters.
Hire an arborist to help you cut the hanging branches off the trees because they’ll carry out the task professionally. Professionals use equipment like cranes or bucket trucks to prevent the branch from falling on the rooftop. This reduces the impact by lowering the branches slowly to the ground. Fortunately, a local roofer can offer these services and dispose of the debris at an affordable cost.
4. Clear the Snow ASAP
Many homeowners get comfortable with the roofing frame being designed to resist impacts. But that shouldn’t keep you from scrapping the snow off the roof if it doesn’t melt. Snow exerts much pressure on the roof, and high accumulation can lead to sagging or breakage of some frames. So, snow scraping is one of the main winter roofing tips for homeowners.
Although hiring a roofing contractor for snow removal every time may be expensive, it’s worth protecting your roof at all costs. Ideally, partner with local roofers who can perform simple scraping services cheaply. Home Advisor says homeowners pay between $300 to $500 for roof scrapping, but rest assured this may not happen daily. You only need the services when the temperature is extremely low for the snow to melt.
Besides preparing for the winter weather, the roof’s support structure and age can be huge determinants of whether you need regular scrapping. If your roof is nearing its end of life, it needs more care than a new roof because the supporting structure is weak. That aside, avoid using electric heating or applying any heating method manually because it can damage the roof or result in fire.
Snow will accumulate regardless of the roof’s slope if temperatures are low. Professionals use a rake to scrape the snow from the surface. These rakes have a longer handle and let one scraping stay on the ground to avoid exerting more weight on the roof. Normally, professionals don’t scrape all the snow from the roof because the rake can damage the shingles.
5. Keep an Eye on Your Attic
Attic care is one of the winter roofing tips for homeowners you must include in your list. The attic is vital in keeping the interior comfortable during extreme weather conditions. The insulation helps maintain the warmth in the interior as the roofing surface freezes. So, check the condition of the insulation materials and replace them before winter starts.
On the other hand, ventilation is very important during the cold seasons. Cold weather can force moisture to rest in the attic and cause dampness. Moisture later damages the roofing frames and other materials like the gypsum. Ensure the attic ventilation is checked for better air circulation.
While the attic ventilation is good for home interior comfort, the ventilations can be entry points for pests. Squirrels and birds prepare early by finding a comfortable place for their young ones. As such, they will settle in the attic to avoid the unforgiving winter. Unfortunately, these pests will not shelter in the attic without causing damage.
Most pests, like squirrels, chew the electric cables and can cause fire or high power wastage. Pests can also chew the roofing materials and damage them. Additionally, pests can mess around because they poop and urinate, making the area damp and stinky. When hiring a roofing service, plan on the best ways to keep the pests off your attic.
6. Replace Damaged Shingles
Repair is the heart of the winter roofing tips for homeowners. So, you’ll have to replace your shingles due to unavoidable circumstances. As the sun gets hotter during summer, shingles fade and crack. The spaces formed can allow water to seep into the house during winter.
Wind also blows much during winter and can blow off the loose shingles. Before the season starts, check and replace the shingle nails to make the roofing shingles firm. Additionally, if any shingle has developed cracks or is completely damaged, replace it to avoid leakages as heavy snow falls.
Sometimes, you may replace an old shingle, and the color difference becomes noticeable due to age. You can hire a roof coating service to make the surface look better. Luckily, most roofing permits allow coating for various reasons other than aesthetics. The coating increases solar reflectivity, biological growth resistance, and impact resistance.
7. Repair Damaged Flashing
You cannot exhaust the winter roofing tips for homeowners without checking at the metal flashing. Due to expansion and contraction due to temperature fluctuations, the metal flashing develops tiny holes. These tiny holes can allow water into the attic during winter.
Although these small holes or other faults may seem easier to repair, you must hire a certified local roofing contractor to carry out the repairs. This is because patching the holes requires professionals to mix the roofing cement appropriately. Professionals can use plug pinholes with roofing cement if the holes are 3/4 inch or smaller in diameter.
However, the cement is applied after professional cleaning and roughening of the surface. Afterward, the patch is cut and fixed on the holes. Professionals examine the condition of the flashing before repairing it. If the metal surface is badly corroded, you must replace it.
8. Replace Old Caulking
According to experts, caulking should last for around 5 years. But caulking around the roof flashing can take a beating before the estimated period because of the extreme weather. Higher temperatures during winter can damage the caulking faster than estimated.
Renewing the caulking is one of the winter roofing tips for homeowners. After patching the caulking, roofing professionals chip out the old mortar and caulk along the flashing edges. After removing the old mortar, they use special masonry caulk to seal the joints between the chimney and the caulking.
When it comes to sealing the roofing parts, different materials are used depending on the component. For instance, urethane roofing cement or silicone caulking compounds are commonly used around the chimney. Fortunately, any roofing business you visit will have these materials readily stocked because they are common in the US.
9. Treat the Roof for Algae and Moss
As the leaves and debris settle on the roof surface and the gutters, they rot. This decaying matter encourages the growth of mold, algae, and moss. Mold growth can lead to respiratory health issues and damage to the home aesthetics. So, it’s necessary to treat your roof for mold and mildew.
Roofing companies use fungicides to remove mold from the roof. Fungicide is the cheapest and most effective option for homeowners since other methods can damage the roof. Normally, professionals clean the roof and spray the chemicals to ensure they penetrate various spaces.
Alternatively, chlorine bleach is used by various homeowners in the US to treat fungus, mildew, and algae on the roof. However, this method can be risky because excessive bleach can damage the shingles. Here is the recommended procedure for mixing the ingredients:
Step 1: Mix ¼-part chlorine bleach with ¾-part water. Then, add one tablespoon of trisodium phosphate.
Step 2: Pour the mixture into a pump sprayer.
Step 3: Spray the solution to the affected areas of your roof.
Step 4: Leave the solution for 30 minutes to an hour.
Step 5: Rinse the shingles using a low-pressure hose to remove the solution.
Step 6: Run your fingers across the shingles. If you feel the slime, repeat the rinsing process.
The above are 9 winter roofing tips for homeowners. Ensure you have professionals to perform the inspection and other services to avoid trouble during winter. However, if the roof is damaged beyond repair or may cost you more than half its value, budget for residential roof replacement. Remember to perform a post-winter roof inspection because the harsh weather can damage the roof.