When The Winter Weather Can Wreck Your Roof: Preventative Tips For Homeowners

Posted on: 18 December 2015

Winter comes and goes, and if you are not careful, your roof can go with it. The cold weather, the snow, and even some holiday traditions can land you with some costly repair work if you don't work to prevent damages. Here are some useful tips that can help you avoid any roofing woes that could affect you this season.

1. Make sure your roof is properly insulated and ventilated.

This is a proactive step-- which means if you have waited until the snow is already piled a foot high on your roof, you have waited too long. Insulation and ventilation prevent a host of winter weather problems, including:

  • ice dams. Ice dams are caused by melting and refreezing of water from the roof, causing ice to pack near the edges of the roof above the gutter. Their expanding weight can eventually push the gutters from the roof, bear down on your walls and crack your windows, and back moisture underneath the shingles, leading to water damage in the sub-roof and leaks in the home. Insulation especially keeps heat from the home from melting the snow on the roof, preventing running water that freezes later, contributing to the dam.
  • Indoor condensation. It's great to have a weather-tight home, but an attic that is too tight and poorly insulated will lead to indoor air condensation as the temperature inside the attic drops. You won't feel the dropping temperature in the rooms below, but the moist air from humidifiers, dryers, dishwashers and cooking can still circulate to the attic, where it actually cools back into liquid form. Mold growth, rot, and leaks can result, threatening the structural integrity of your roof and necessitating costly repair work later.
  • lifting shingles. If your roof is older and is soon going to need the shingles replaced, colder temperatures and snowfall can actually start to lift the shingles from the roof if you have poor roof insulation and ventilation. Heat from the home melts snow and ice, and the water then sinks into or slips behind older shingles. The water then refreezes beneath them, expanding and lifting them from the sub-roof. This can set off a chain reaction, as the lifted shingles leave other nearby shingles vulnerable to the same problem.

Call a roofing company in the fall before the snow falls to check your insulation and ventilation. It will save you some hefty repair costs to spend a little on this pre-emptive strike. 

2. Clean the gutters.

Autumn is an unfortunate season to precede winter, as falling leaves and twigs fill the gutters and leave them as an ideal starting place for icicles during the winter months. In the early winter, take the time to clean gutters thoroughly to discourage icicle growth later. Not only are they a safety hazard, but they can also distort your gutters' shape or even completely break them from the roof. Sometimes, the ice can bring some shingles with it, so the edges of the roof are left exposed to water damage.

3. Hire a professional to install holiday lights.

Homeowners can make some mistakes when it comes to installing lights for festive decor. Some may nail them into the edge of the roof, cracking or punching holes through shingles. Other times, in an effort to speed up the clean-up process, homeowners may rip lights down in a single pull instead of carefully unclipping them from the gutter line. These actions can severely damage your shingles' integrity. If you are not perfectly confident with installing your own lights, it's best to leave the job to a pro.

You can prevent winter roof damage with a few proactive steps. Don't hesitate to contact a roofing company like Palmer Roofing for any needed repairs before winter makes the damage worse.