Fall has arrived, which means before long winter storms will be arriving. Now is the time to prepare your home for the winter season and one of the most overlooked tasks is preparing the roof. Even in areas where you do not have snow all season, it is important to take precautions against the winter season. Here are five ways you can get your roof ready for the cold, freezing rain, snow and ice.

Clean off Debris

It is important to clear all of the debris from your roof before winter sets in. Even small amounts of debris, such as pine needles, leaves and dirt that are covering the surface of the roof can hold moisture, which will add weight to the roof. The added weight can cause the roof to collapse and moist debris can cause mildew, fungus and mold to grow on the roof, which will eventually break down the roofing material.

Trim Tree Branches

Tree branches that hang over the roof should be cut before the first freeze. Although the damage is typically minor when tree branches fall on the roof, if they aren't removed, snow and ice can collect on the branches, which adds weight and may cause significant damage to the roof. The best solution is to trim the branches before winter begins. If there are tree branches over electrical wires, these should also be trimmed to prevent the risk of the weight of frozen branches falling on the electrical wires, which can possibly knock out the power to your home.

Inspect the Roof

Once you have cleaned the roof off, carefully inspect it for any damages. One of the most frustrating problems a homeowner can face is a leaking roof in the middle of the winter. If you are uncomfortable climbing on the roof, contact a local roofing company and schedule a maintenance appointment. If you choose to inspect the roof yourself, there are several things you should look for, including:

  • Loose or missing flashing around the vent stacks and chimney
  • Torn or blistering shingles
  • Missing or curling shingles
  • Wood rot in areas where shingles are missing or damaged
  • Animal nesting

Clean the Gutters and Downspouts

If the gutters have debris and leaves in them, it may cause a clog in the downspout. Cleaning the gutters and the downspouts helps to prevent rainwater and melting snow from overflowing in the gutters, which can damage the roof. Gutters can also come loose and collapse due to the added weight of water and wet leaves. The optimum time to clean the gutters is after all of the leaves have fallen and any nearby trees are bare.

Ice Damming

The attic of your home plays an important part in preparing your roof for the winter. There may be a great deal of sunshine during the day in the winter, but when the temperatures drop to freezing at night it can cause ice dams, which can cause significant damage to the roof. As the sunlight heats the attic and the roof, the hot air creates condensation, which freezes and creates ice dams in the gutters and/or on the edge of the roof. Ice dams cause melting snow and water to back up onto the roof, penetrate the shingles and enter the attic and/or the exterior walls of your home. Having appropriate attic insulation and attics vents along with clean, debris free gutters may help prevent ice dams.

The best time to prepare your roof for the winter season is about midway through the fall. If you notice any damages, contact a local roofing company—such as Align Roofing LLC—to make the repairs as soon as possible. Keep in mind that safety is a priority, so if you are not comfortable inspecting the roof and gutters, most roofers will do both tasks for you.

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