While we look forward to spring, winter is still very much here with us. If you reside in Ontario, you are probably aware of the implications and effects that winter can have on your home and property. Snowstorms can cause significant damage to a roof, and this is why it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your roof during the winter and prevent damage from occurring. There are a few things you can do to protect your roof and ensure it doesn’t suffer significant damage over the winter months. While these tips can be helpful, not everyone is able to conduct the appropriate visual inspections and subsequent preventive actions. In this case, contacting a qualified building inspector to advise you on the condition of your roof is a good option.
Ensure your Attic is Properly Ventilated
The long-term health of your roof depends greatly on the proper ventilation and insulation of your home, especially the attic. Effective insulation regulates the temperature in your home, which in turn helps to decrease heating costs and keep the outdoor winter temperatures at bay. Proper ventilation works to prevent moisture from building up, which can cause damage to the structure and interior of your home, as well as the materials that make up your roof. When you inspect your attic, ensure that all vents and other ventilation elements are in good working order and are not blocked by any items in the attic.
Clean your Eavestroughs
Your home’s eavestroughs (also known as gutters) protect your home from damage caused by water. They keep water away from the foundation of the home by controlling the flow of water during a rainstorm or thaw. If the eavestroughs are clogged, the flow of water will freeze, forming icicles around the home and potentially leading to damage to the foundation.
During the fall and winter seasons, leaves accumulate in the eavestroughs. When the water can not drain properly, it overflows and can potentially result in damage to the roof, siding, and trim of your home. In some cases, the gutters might even fall off if they have collected too much snow or water. Ideally, the eavestroughs should be cleaned every spring and fall before winter sets in, as once the temperatures are below freezing, clearing them can be much more difficult.
Clean your Roof
Even if winter has already set in, it is never too late to take the time to remove debris from your roof. Cleaning your roof is as simple as climbing a safe and steady ladder and sweeping it with a broom as best as you can. There are some products available that are specifically designed to help with this process, such as a “Roof Rake.” This is something that should be done regularly (twice a year) to minimize the build-up of debris and help to keep your roof intact during the winter months. For some people, this task is too challenging, and they choose to hire a professional to clean their roof, which is a great option and will ensure that the roof is cleaned properly without causing additional damage.
When heavy snow builds up on the roof, it can cause the roof to collapse, especially when the roof in question is flat. When snow isn’t removed and continues to build up, or should it melt and then refreeze, ice dams can start to form. As these ice dams appear and then melt as the temperatures warm up, significant water damage can result. To prevent the buildup of snow and ice on your roof, use a broom or rake with a telescoping handle to remove snow as it accumulates. Using chemicals to melt the snow is not recommended as they can cause major damage to shingles and other roofing materials on your roof.
Do a Visual Inspection of your Roof Valleys and Shingles
Once your roof has been cleared of excess snow and debris, you will be able to conduct a thorough visual inspection of the condition of your roof. Watch for cracks or damage to the shingles, and pay extra close attention to areas of your roof that are more prone to damage or leaks such as the areas around the chimney, vents, or skylights. If you do notice signs of damage, the shingles or entire roof may need to be replaced. If you manage to discover the damage before late fall, hire a professional to come and inspect the roof for you and repair any damage before the arrival of winter.
Most roofing professionals recommend inspecting the condition of your roof and shingles every 6 months. It is a good idea to keep a record of all roof inspections that are done to protect the warranty on your roof and keep track of how often they are being conducted. A good rule of thumb is that if your roof is 15 years old or older or if your shingles are broken or missing, your roof probably should be replaced.
Schedule a Routine Roof Inspection
If doing all of this yourself sounds like more than you are able or want to do, you’re not alone. Many people feel uncomfortable cleaning their roof and eavestroughs as well as conducting a thorough visual inspection of their roof twice a year. This is where the professionals come in! An experienced and qualified home inspector is your best resource when it comes to inspecting and maintaining the condition of your roof, as well as preventing damage to your home during the winter. If you want to learn more about how to protect your roof for the winter and how Building Insights can help, contact us today!