Winter Is Coming: 4 Tips for Protecting Your Roof in Cold Weather

Gutter Cleaning for Winter

As winter sets in, snowy, icy weather looms on the horizon. Inches of heavy, wet snow can spell doom for a roof in ill-repair or one that sustains damage during a winter storm. To avoid having an ice rink in your living room come January, follow these 4 steps to winter roof health:

Check Your Roof Each Season

Your roof can fall victim to damage that, though minor, may spell disaster when ice and winter winds get involved. Missing shingles, insufficient flashing, or sagging gutters leave opportunities for moisture to settle in. When temperatures drop, the moisture freezes and expands as ice, making even slight damage worse. Roof repairs are more difficult to complete in winter, too, so a small fix can become more expensive than it would be in another season.

To see if your roof has any pressing issues that need addressing, get up on a ladder once each spring and fall, at minimum, and thoroughly inspect your roof. Look for missing or damaged shingles, visible underlays, and areas where vents, chimneys, and skylights may not have sufficient sealing. Remove any debris, such as tree branches, that may have accumulated on the roof during the prior season. Inspect gutters to ensure they are securely attached to the house, aren’t rusting, and haven’t sustained damage. If you feel uncomfortable getting up on the roof, call a professional for a full seasonal roof inspection.

Keep an Eye on Your Trees

Trees are one of the biggest culprits for roof damage, as a tree branch blown on the wind can be strong enough to pierce shingles. If the tree or branch is heavy enough, it can cause a portion of your roof to cave in, causing considerable damage and injuring occupants. To avoid weather-related tree damage to your roof, keeping nearby trees in good health and well-groomed is important.

Trim trees so they aren’t hanging over your roof or gutters, if possible. Moisture from trees can cause water damage or rot to your roof, weakening it over time. During winter storms, tree branches collect snow and ice and can snap, falling onto the roof. In addition to keeping trees trimmed, making sure your trees are healthy is important to keeping them from potentially toppling over entirely under the weight of accumulated ice. If your tree appears to be in ill health, call in a tree professional and consider having it removed. According to insurance provider Allstate, homeowners’ insurance may not cover any damage to your home if it was caused by a diseased tree that wasn’t properly cared for.

Clean Your Gutters

Clean gutters are important any time of the year, but they are essential in winter. As snow and ice fall, they accumulate on the roof and in gutters and downspouts. Any moisture that may already have been on your roof, such as in piles of leaves in the gutters, freezes and expands. This expansion can cause damage to you roof and gutters. Then, as the weather begins to thaw and snow and ice melt, water can puddle on your roof and pour over the sides of the gutters, causing further damage to your home and foundation.

Getting up on a ladder and clearing away the leaves and other debris that collects during summer and fall helps keep water flowing properly off the roof and away from the foundation. Consider installing a gutter shield system, such as the K-Guard system, which keeps leaves and debris out of the gutters with no work on your part. While you’re up there, be sure to inspect your gutters and downspouts for any damage. Look especially for signs of rust, broken or punctured downspout elbows, worn joints, and sagging or ill-fitting gutters. If you’re uncomfortable making these inspections yourself, call a gutter professional to inspect and make any necessary repairs.

Properly Insulate Your Attic

Heat rises to the highest point in your home. An improperly insulated attic not only allows this heat to escape your home, increasing your energy bills, but it also creates a large temperature differential between your roof and the interior of your home. This can cause unnecessary wear and tear on your roof, making it more susceptible to damage and decreasing the lifespan of your shingles.

Get up in your attic and check the insulation. If your attic isn’t currently insulated, install insulation – such as fiberglass or blown-foam – before the weather gets too cold. Inspect any current insulation for areas where there may be holes or missing insulation. Check carefully around windows, vents, or chimneys to be sure there is sufficient sealing around the insulation so there aren’t spaces where heat can escape and cold can intrude.

Snow and ice can be tough on roofs, especially during harsh Maryland winters. Taking a few preventative measures each fall can keep you from paying for expensive emergency repairs once the snow hits. The seasoned professionals at Mid-Atlantic Gutters and Exteriors can inspect, repair, or replace your roof, gutters, and windows so you can stay warm and dry all winter long!

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