You don’t want to admit it, but deep down you know it…. winter is back there, hiding – lurking, really – around the corner. The scorching heat of summer has waned and the leaves changing color and fluttering about our yards (especially up here in northern Vermont) are very clear indicators of what’s ahead.
As it seems to ring true with most things, preventative maintenance is the key to longevity.
Do it yourself, or hire a professional roofing contractor – the choice is yours – but either way, make sure it gets done (and done safely).
1. START AT THE TOP
Make sure your roof is in good shape overall. Look for signs like loose shingles, missing sections of roofing, stains, leaks, warped wood, mold, rot or anything else that might send up a red flag.
2. INSPECT (AND CLEAN) THOSE GUTTERS
Look for early warning signs like holes, cracks, and debris and make whatever repairs need to be made. It’s also a good idea to run a bit of hose water through them to make sure they’re still carrying water away from your foundation as they were designed to do.
3. SAY GOODBYE TO UNWELCOME, OVERHANGING TREE LIMBS
Take a stroll around your home and see if there are any limbs or branches hanging over, or brushing up against, your roof or home. If you find any sign of this, trim them before winter sets in, and while you’re at it, look for any dead trees and get rid of them at the same time. Cleaning them up now will help keep your home and roof protected from costly damages.
4. HEAD UP TO THE ATTIC
Adequate ventilation is essential to proper roof function, allowing fresh air into the attic, resulting in stale, moist air being pushed out. If the ventilation is not adequate, you can expect common problems like mold, mildew, rust, soggy decking, heavy icicles, ice dams and interior leaks. It’s critical to properly ventilate (and insulate) attic spaces to avoid these pitfalls.
5. REPLACE CAULKING
Caulking isn’t supposed to become wrinkled, crinkled or cracked. If you see any of this, replace it now before it gets much worse.
6. CHECK ALL FLASHINGS
This one is pretty straightforward – secure any loose flashings and replace any that show signs of damage or leakage, paying special attention to areas around chimneys, plumbing vents and other roof projections.
7. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CHIMNEY
DO NOT SKIP THIS!
It’s extremely important to have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year (we live in Vermont and because we burn wood about 7 months of the year, my husband cleans and inspects ours more like 3 or 4 times).
Inspections and regular cleanings will prevent build-up of dangerous creosote from your stove pipes and will help ensure that everything will function as desired. You’ll feel better knowing you had it done!
8. INSTALL SNOW GUARDS
Snow-capped homes seem almost picture-perfect in their charm. Too bad snow is extremely heavy, and can come barreling off your roof suddenly and without warning, causing what is known as a roof avalanche.
A roof avalanche can cause irreparable damage to lower roof areas, gutters, plumbing vents, skylights, pets, cars, landscaping, and most importantly, people. A smart precautionary measure is the installation of snow guards. Snow guards are rooftop devices that allow snow and ice to drop off in small amounts or allow snow and ice to melt completely before falling to the ground. The installation of snow guards prevents the sudden release of snow and ice from a roof, helping to protect those areas below. Alpine SnowGuards to the rescue!
9. KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR PESTS
Squirrels, raccoons, mice, wasps and birds may see your home as a welcome relief from the cold weather. Who could blame them? While it would be nice to provide all of the animals of the world a respite, they can cause extensive (and expensive), damage. Look for any signs of the presence of animals or insects, as well as for any areas that a cold and hungry animal might like to inhabit. It would be a good idea to check your attic, too.
10. GO INSIDE. NOW LOOK UP.
The last tip for winterizing your roof actually takes place on the inside of your home.
Look up at your ceiling and look for any signs of leaks or stains. It not always easy to tell exactly what caused a ceiling stain, but the location of that stain can often point to signs of what might have caused the stain. For example, if your stain seems to be directly below a chimney, the stain is most likely a direct result of poor flashing. When a stain is apparent along the walls or in corners, it’s usually a result of an ice dam (which, again, is why it’s so important to ensure your attic is properly insulated and ventilated).
Following these tips will bring you peace of mind. You can feel confident that the most important part of your home is in good shape and can continue doing the job it was designed for….protecting you and your family from the elements.
Now get out there and enjoy the cooler temperatures!
We keep snow in its place
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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits.
(Images from Hendricks Architecture, Wikimedia, Bob Vila, Servpro, Shutterstock and Alpine SnowGuards’ archives)