A poignant question for homeowners at this time of year is “how to prepare your roof for winter?” With the kids soon back to school and days getting cooler again, the change of seasons means planning for the months ahead. This includes preventative roof maintenance to get your roof ready for fall rain and then the first freeze of winter.

How to prepare your roof for winter – 4 things for your to-do list

  1. Cleaning the gutters
  2. Checking for roof damage and deterioration
  3. Trimming back overhanging vegetation
  4. Checking the attic for air flow

1. Cleaning the gutters

You should make gutter cleaning a priority in your roof maintenance routine. Helping to channel water off your roof and draining it away from your foundation, gutter systems are exposed to the elements. Given how many leaves fall at this time of year, your home’s gutters collect debris like this with each passing month. If left uninspected, you could experience the horror of clogged or blocked gutters. In all likelihood, a blocked gutter means increased water accumulation on your roof. When water can no longer be effectively drained away from your roof, the only place for it to go is down into your home below. Seeping beneath your roof’s shingles, roof water accumulation only increases the risk of attic leaks, ceiling damage, and associated mold and mildew growth. Worse still, if you don’t tackle clogged gutters in fall, the threat gets even bigger in winter. Why? Because any standing water on your roof will freeze, forming ice dams that trap snow and ice. This adds an unnecessary amount of weight to your home’s gutters, sometimes causing them to buckle and break. Believe it or not, the best way to clean gutters is to clean from the ground. Using a traditional stepladder is dangerous, especially during bouts of wind and rain this fall. Nowadays, a simple “gutter cleaning tools” Google search will present you with many purpose-built modern contraptions to get the job done safely and efficiently. If DIY isn’t your forte, contact a local contractor instead.

2. Checking for roof damage and deterioration

Now it’s fall, your home’s roof has just completed its own seasonal sunbathing routine. You should know that most home roof damage occurs in summer when increased ultraviolet light beams from the sun. The most common roofing material, asphalt shingles, are prone to cracking under intense UV rays that alter their chemical makeup and often create gaps in the foundation. Albeit a slow process, early inspection can reduce costly repair bills and prevent many dangers to the safety and comfort of your family. You should be aware that roof hole formation can lead to:
  • Indoor temperature fluctuations
  • Pest infestations
  • Leaks or water damage
When you or an inspector performs a visual examination of your roof, common roof warning signs include:
  • Water stains on interior walls or ceilings
  • Water flow between guttering and the roof edge
  • Cracked or chipped bricks and mortar
  • Loose, cracked, or chipped shingles
  • Moist or wet attic insulation
Even if roof damage or deterioration appears small, it’s always worth hiring a professional inspector like AmeriSpec, and then a skilled contractor to remedy any issues before they get worse.

3. Trimming back overhanging vegetation

If you live in a wooded area or have trees on your property, don’t forget about branches. The risk to your roof all depends on proximity, but if there is any overhanging vegetation, this demands your immediate attention right now. Tree branches are huge culprits for roof and home damage since they’re constantly growing and have sharp, twisting limbs. In high winds and storms this fall and winter, an overgrown tree’s branches can quickly damage your roof, siding, and windows. If vegetation is large enough, it may affect your neighbour’s property also. The answer to “how to trim tree branches?” is hiring a professional to complete the job. You should always seek out a highly skilled technician for cutting tree branches. Performing the job yourself carries several personal injury risks. Not only that but family members, neighbours and your home might be caught in the crossfire of fallen branches resulting from unskilled labour. Lastly, don’t forget that the bigger the tree, the more chance there is for winter snow to reside on the branches, adding unnecessary weight and potentially causing branches to buckle and break.

4. Checking the attic for air flow

Remember, a roof is only as healthy as the attic beneath it. There should always be sufficient air circulation in your attic to guard against roof leakage. Without proper ventilation in your attic, moisture will accumulate and produce unwanted mold. If your attic is poorly ventilated with no vents located at the soffits and ridges, higher temperatures will reduce your roof’s lifespan. Left uninspected, the harsh reality is higher utility bills. When you or an inspector performs a visual examination of your attic, common warning signs include:
  • Moisture build-up
  • Mold build-up
  • Deteriorated insulation

Remember, roofing is covered within a professional AmeriSpec home inspection

If preventative roof maintenance isn’t performed this fall, frost and snow will batter your roofing when temperatures dip below freezing. Freeze-thaw cycles are the day counts of temperature fluctuating between freezing and non-freezing. Its threats to your home include thermal shock, moisture penetration, ice dams, and cracking or slackening of mortar and caulking. Heavy rain or snowfall increases the process of repeated expansion and contraction of roofing that destabilizes the strength and structural integrity of its materials. Now it’s back to school season, homeowners are busier and can tend to forget about preventative roof maintenance. AmeriSpec can help make sure this isn’t you. Our professional inspectors take 2-3 hours to examine about 1,000 checkpoints in approximately 400 items around the home including its roofing. We’ll produce a tailored AmeriSpec Report with recommended actions. Don’t leave a damaged roof uninspected. Find your local home inspector here.