How to Prepare Your Roof For Winter

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Make sure your roof is ready for winter. Photo by Андрей Курган on Unsplash
Your roof is an essential part of your home, and like many parts of your home, it requires routine maintenance to keep it in top shape. One vital preparation you need to make is for the winter. Depending on your location, you may need to take more or fewer precautions, but it is important to know how to prepare your roof for this season — when inclement weather and cold temperatures can wreak havoc on your house.
In this article we’ll cover how to inspect for leaks inside your home and how to fix the leaks you do find, clearing off your roof, checking the roof’s structural integrity, and evaluating the quality of your insulation.

How to Prepare your Roof for Winter

Step 1: Inspect inside your home for evidence of leaks. A leak means that water is finding its way inside your roof and into your home.
While it is not particularly easy to check the roof from the outside, you can inspect inside your home for evidence of leaks, such as spotting on your ceiling or mold. Get as close as you can to your roof from inside your home to check for leaks — this might looking at the ceiling around you attic. Be sure to also check around the walls and in other portions of your home where water might find a way in.
If you think there is a leak but can’t find water damage, you can also get someone to run water across your roof with a hose while you check out your walls and ceilings for signs of dripping. You’re going to need to try to mimic a hard rain, so be prepared to use a lot of water on your roof.
Step 2: Fix the leaks. Once you have identified that there is a leak, it generally makes sense to have a professional roofer come out and fix the problem.
If you are going to fix a leak yourself, the type of work you’ll need to to depend a great deal on where and how your roof is damaged. Check out this explainer by Home Depot on how to fix the most common leaks yourself.
The sooner you get this done the better, so you can avoid any potential water or mold damage to your home.
Step 3: Clear off your roof. While it might be tempting to let any leaves or other debris sit on the roof forever, you really should clear these off.
Inevitably, the leaves will begin to rot over time and the mold could cause serious damage to your roof. This is a great way to prevent damage and keep your roof structurally sound. If you have a ladder and a long enough broom or rake, you could clear these off yourself. Be careful, however, and be sure to watch out for your own safety and also be sure not to remove any shingles accidentally.
If you are not prepared to do this yourself or if the physical aspect is not possible, you can pay someone to do it for you.
Step 4: Check on the roof’s structural integrity. Ice and heavy snow can be hard on roofs — not to mention the possibility of falling tree branches due to winter storms — so it’s important to check out how your roof is doing structurally before the winter season. This may be difficult to do in detail if you are not an expert, but there are at least some items you can check on.
First of all, look for any missing shingles or depressions or obvious signs of deformity. Secondly, check around any chimneys or other ports that could be coming out of your roof. Look where these meet the shingles and see if there is a way that water could get in or if there are signs of damage.
Sadly, the elements have their way of finding even the smallest point of vulnerability and working their way in. You can do your best to look from afar or get on the roof if you are comfortable with it. Again, don’t be afraid to have a professional give you a thorough roof inspection.
Step 5: Evaluate the quality of your ventilation. The worst thing for a roof in the winter weather is poor insulation, which causes ice dams.
These can wreak havoc on your roof, and the fact is that they don’t have all that much to do with the roof itself but rather with your home’s insulation. When snow builds up on the roof, your home loses heat which melts the snow somewhat and it then refreezes. The process of melting and refreezing causes damage, especially in the form of leaks. Left alone, the damage could get so bad that repair wouldn’t be enough and you would need to invest in a new roof.
The cure is to check on the quality of insulation to prevent your home from losing heat. If this is not something you are comfortable with, you can have a professional come inspect the home for you. If you do have poor insulation, fixing it will help your roof and your monthly energy bill.
It is important to prepare your roof for winter because the roof acts as the shield between you and the elements. Taking care of it will prevent unnecessary leaks and ensure you protect the investment that is your home.