Arguably, nothing is quite as important to your home as a good roof. It's also true that the changing seasons deliver more of a beating to your roof than any other factor. Winter is especially trying, particularly in areas with heavy and wet snowfall. Here are some tips to help protect your roof from breaking down or caving in through the coldest part of the year.
Clean and maintain gutters
Clearing out the gutters is often considered a fall and spring task – after all, those are the times when the gutter is most likely to be full of water or choked with leaves. Winter can tax the gutters as well. Snow slides off the roof and pushes into the gutters, a sunny day melts just enough to turn to troublesome ice, and howling winds break gutter sections apart. Give your gutters a frequent visual examination from the ground, and climb up to check for congestion at least once a month during the winter.
Prune and trim nearby trees
Most pruning will initially be done in the fall, and it's critical that you keep up with that maintenance to prevent damage from falling limbs. Through the winter, it's also important to keep an eye on overhead branches and immediately remove any that are broken or seriously damaged in order to protect your house.
Have a roof inspection done
If your roof hasn't been inspected for a while, it's best to get it done before the snow flies. A quality roofing inspector can check for any damage sustained in previous years, whether you have a metal roof or asphalt shingles.
Do regular snow removal
A well-made roof usually sheds snow as soon as it melts slightly. Some roof shapes, however, don't allow all of the snow to fall off – they're designed to allow runoff once it melts, but trap the solid snow. Heavy, wet snowfall accumulates quickly in many areas, and simply allowing the snow to remain until it melts may not be an option. The roof may collapse in severe cases, but even smaller amounts of collected snow can stress the joists and cause water damage. Since it is dangerous to walk on the roof during this time, use a roof snow rake. You can find these at most hardware stores and they look like long-handled metal squeegees. You can stand safely on the ground and clear your roof with them!
Watch for ice dams
Ice dams occur for a number of reasons, including poor runoff and attic ventilation issues. These dams are a top cause of water damage on the roof as well as damage to gutters. Collected ice must be removed as quickly as possible, but then it's important to discover what caused them to collect in the first place and fix the problem. Roofing inconsistencies, undiscovered damage, and poorly kept gutters can all lend to the problem. Left long enough, persistent ice dams may lead to completely replacing the roof.
Winter is already busy time, so adding one more thing to the maintenance list isn't always easy – but it is essential for the good of your roof.