How to Prepare a Roof for Winter Weather

Most people don’t know to prepare a roof for winter. Hurricanes? Heavy rainstorms? Sure. What about cold temperatures? Homeowners assume their homes can withstand the season’s chill. Not so! However, with minimal effort, you can safeguard your home against surprise leaks and other incidents which pose a risk to your property.

Three Steps to Prepare a Roof for Winter

1. Clean the gutters
2. Check for existing damage
3. Reinforce your attic

Chances are you already have at least one of these tasks on your fall to-do list, but it’s important to cover all three. You might need the help of a professional if you’re unable to get on top of your roof safely. A fall maintenance visit from a trusted roofing expert is the perfect time to put the systems in place to make the processes easier in the future.

1. Clean the Gutters to Prepare a Roof for Winter

Gutters run the length of your home and help carry water off your roof where it will eventually find its way indoors. Most gutter systems run fine without a lot of bells and whistles. The only necessary tinkering is a thorough cleaning once or twice a year—or after a serious storm.

The types of material you find stuck in gutters range from the expected twigs, leaves, and the occasional bug to oddities like random toys from the hands of neighborhood children. Anything on top of your roof during a rainstorm will likely make its way into your gutter system where it could become a clogging hazard. If this happens and then it rains, all the water will overflow from your gutters and rainfall next to your home’s foundation. The resulting damage can be significant.

Then there are the neglected roofs that go “green” by default. Ignored gutter systems can also become container gardens in their own right, often home to the nastiest weeds in the area. Seeds blow upward or birds transport them to the roof where they wind up in the gutter, taking root in a mess of damp leaves and pine trees. When this happens, cleaning might not be enough to get control of the problem. While not as expensive as a roof replacement, installing new gutters can cost a few thousand dollars.

Thankfully, whether you clean or replace your gutters, there are products effective at stopping debris buildup. Ask your roofing specialist about Gutter Guards and how they can reduce maintenance around your house.

2. Check for Damage

An inspection of the roof will turn up cracked or missing caulk around pipes and chimneys, loose or missing tiles or warped underlayment. Identifying these issues early will help you get ahead of any damage to the interior of your home. Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to get on top of the roof to perform a thorough inspection.

Here are a few safe alternatives to a physical roof inspection:

  • Hire a professional
  • Use binoculars
  • Inspect your roof by drone

Using a drone is one of the easiest, safest, and most accurate ways to detect roofing problems, but you need to own one of decent quality and know how to use it properly. There are also issues related to licensing drone operators can’t ignore.

Like it or not, the FAA considers these handy unmanned aircraft just that, and by using one to inspect your roof, you’ve taken on the role of a pilot. If you’d like to avoid the learning curve that comes with the FAA’s Special Rule for Model Aircraft, look for a professional roofer that offers drone inspections. Commercial providers not only know the laws; they have to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.

3. Reinforce Your Attic to Prepare a Roof for Winter

During Hurricane Florence, homeowners along the eastern seaboard bought special equipment to reinforce the beams in the attic against the extra force of a category 4 tropical storm. Heading into winter, you need to reinforce your attic in a different way. Because Georgia doesn’t typically suffer from snow and ice loads, cave-ins aren’t so likely. The common damages seen in Georgia attics during winter come from leaks and condensation.

Inspect the inside of your attic and look for discoloration on the ceiling or damp insulation. Replace any affected materials and schedule roof repairs before winter kicks in. Insulation prevents cold air from flooding your attic, lowering the temperature of your home and causing discomfort and higher heating bills.

You’ll also want to make sure you have proper ventilation. As you heat your home, the warm, moist air will enter your attic and cool. As it does, the water contained in the air will deposit itself on wood beams and insulation, which can lead to mold and other types of water damage. You should have one square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of attic space. A professional can help you determine the location and condition of existing vents and help you install more if needed.

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