Cold, wet winters in the Mid-Atlantic threaten your roof every year. Knowing how to prevent roof damage this winter will keep you ahead of any problems that could develop. Before snow flies, you need to take action to spot potential problems. If you find any, you can fix them before leaks start. You should also keep an eye on your roof throughout the winter, especially after heavy snow.
Common Winter Roof Problems
Even if you have not experienced any problems in the past, roof damage can occur at any point in time. Winter poses an ongoing threat due to the accumulation of snow and ice and temperatures shifting above and below freezing.
A heavy accumulation of snow can put excess strain on your roof’s structure. If any decking has rotted, the snow’s weight could break open the roof. Heavy snow and ice can also push tree limbs down on your roof. Sagging limbs can break loose shingles or bend gutters.
Ice dams represent a common problem even if your roof is structurally sound. Melt water during the day that freezes at night can back up from the gutter. The ice pushes under the shingles and lets water penetrate the roof.
Preventing roof damage this winter also includes looking in your attic. Condensation in the attic becomes likely during cold weather and will lead to mold growth. Moisture condensates in a cold attic due to heat rising from the interior of your home. Adequate attic insulation and ventilation halts this process that allows water to evaporate.
Steps for How to Prevent Roof Damage This Winter
- Walk around your home and inspect the roof.
- Look for missing, slipping, or broken shingles. They need to be fixed right away.
- Take note of any signs that the roof decking is sagging between joists. This indicates compromised wood that will fail eventually.
- Also, check nearby trees for limbs within 6 feet of your roof.
- If tree limbs are touching the roof or too close, arrange for tree trimming.
- After the visual inspection from the ground, use a ladder to take a look at the gutters.
- Position the ladder on stable ground and climb to the roof’s edge. While looking at the gutters, you can also get a closer view of the shingles. Check for shingle cracking that may not have been apparent from the ground.
- Remove debris from the gutters and rinse them clean with a hose sprayer.
- Confirm that water drains freely through the downspouts.
- Work your way around the edges of the roof to ensure all gutters are clear.
- Your next step is to check your attic for problems.
- Enter your attic and shine the flashlight up and down the joists and across the floor.
- Look for signs of mold, like black splotches, or water stains.
- Touch surfaces to see if they feel moist.
- Any signs of moisture meant that you have a problem with insulation and ventilation.
- If you already have insulation, it may be insufficient or have gaps in protection.
- Take a closer look for gaps and seal them with more insulation or caulk.
- Check to see if you have proper roof ventilation. Without it, insulation alone cannot halt the threat of condensation.
- If no insulation is present, you need to add attic insulation.
- During the winter, you should remove excess snow from the edges of your roof with a roof rake. The snow removal protects against ice dams. If this tactic does not prevent ice dams, you may need to install ice-melting cables.