When people think about their roofs, they often don’t realize how many surrounding structures are involved. The word roof comes to mind and you imagine the black shingles, which protect you and your family from the elements. In reality, there are a lot of moving parts that make up the entire infrastructure of your roof and for it to stay stable you need to pay attention to it as a whole. This is especially important during times of harsh weather, such as what we experience in the heart of winter. Winter brings snow, sub-zero temperatures, sleet, harsh winds, and sometimes hail. It can damage your roof when it’s in good condition, and destroy one that’s in bad condition. To make sure you’re prepared for the worst weather of the year, it’s critical that you take the time to properly winterize your roof and your home. That’s why we’ve put together this checklist. Here are our top 8 tips for winterizing your roof this season.
1. Get a Professional Inspection
Professional inspections are unbeatable. They allow you to skip out on the danger of climbing on top of your roof and increase the chances of small, unseen problems being noticed and fixed before it’s too late. Our most beneficial tip in this entire article is to hire a professional to do an inspection and winterize your roof for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to get onto your roof, walk around, and keep an eye out for any damage. Things like loose or missing shingles are a sign of needed repair along with any leaks, warping, mold, cracks, stains, rot, etc. If it doesn’t look like it’s in good shape, it probably isn’t. If you see any pests, nests, or debris that has gathered on your roof, get rid of it. Doing so is essential for the safety of you and your family during winter and for the protection of your wallet over time. Pests can cause costly damage, yet are an easily preventative situation.
2. Don’t Forget Your Gutters
Your gutters can cause a lot of problems during winter months if they’re not cleaned out properly. Gutters should be regularly cleaned at least twice a year, one of them being before the first snowfall—or shortly after. If they are clogged and the snow starts to come down, you’ll experience a tremendous amount of overflow when everything starts to melt. Skipping this step could lead to ice dams when temperatures start to freeze, which essentially prevent water from efficiently draining off of your roof. This causes backups that can damage shingles, your roofs infrastructure, and the interior of your home. Plus, when things continue to freeze, thaw, and freeze again without a place to go, your gutters will increase in weight and may break or fall off of your home—both of which are very dangerous.
3. Trim Branches/Trees
To make sure your roof and gutters remain clean and free from debris during the winter months, take the time to trim the branches of surrounding trees and/or shrubbery. After the leaves fall in autumn is the perfect time for doing this, since you’ll likely be knee-deep in yard work anyway. Anything that extends over your roof or your gutters is fair game and don’t be afraid to trim them a bit shorter to last through the longer winter months. By the time spring comes, they will be the perfect length for the new bloom.
4. Get a Chimney Inspection
The next step is to inspect your chimney. There are a number of reasons why you should do this, but first and foremost is for you and your family’s safety. Since you’ll likely be using your chimney more frequently during colder months, it’s important that you ensure it’s free from any debris, pest, and creosote building. Creosote buildup is extremely flammable and can lead to dangerous home fires. If you find any buildup, pests, debris, or failing mortar between the bricks, call a professional to get a cleaning. Cleaning your chimney is an investment worth making and will ensure that the fires you light to keep your family warm are safe and confined. While inspecting your chimney, take the time to test out your carbon monoxide detectors as well. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.
It may be a good idea to consider your options regarding installing a chimney cap or screen for the winter. Both a cap and a screen work to help keep any objects or pests out of your chimney.
5. Check Inside Your Attic
Next, it’s time to move indoors and check the inside of your attic. Take a look at your insulation and make sure that you have the right amount for the months to come. If you’re unsure of what to look for in an attic inspection, call a professional. Hiring one will help save you tons of money on energy bills when the temperatures start to decrease. Most homes aim for about 12 inches of insulation to be on the safe side, but getting a professional opinion will help you determine the right amount for your home specifically. Trust us, this step makes all of the difference in keeping your home a comfortable temperature in the winter.
You also want to check to make sure there are no leaks, stains, or holes in your attic. If you can see light coming from any point, then you need to get it addressed before the cold comes. If you see any warping or stains, you may have a water leak and should contact a professional as soon as possible.
6. Check Your Ceilings
After checking your attic, take one more level of added precaution and check your ceilings. Keep an eye out for any visible stains from water damage, leaks, mold, mildew, or other marks. Depending on where the stain or damage is can help you identify what the underlying problem is, but again, it’s best to call in a professional. Getting these fixed before winter starts will help you avoid a costly bill come spring, as the weather will only make it worse.
7. Invest in Snow Guards
Snow guards help remove the snow and ice off of your roof in incremental amounts rather than in large avalanches. It’s worth looking into if you are prone to heavy snowfall and have a roof that accumulates large amounts of snow. Snow guards are primarily helpful in improving the safety of people walking around your home, but will also help lessen the pressure buildup on your roof.
8. Consider Heat Cables
Heat cables are an added accessory that you can use to line your roof and prevent massive buildups of snow and ice. You can purchase them and use them over your entire roof or only in areas that collect more snow and receive less sunlight. Installing these prior to the winter months will help give your roof a break from the added weight of long-term buildup. These are especially useful if you live in an area prone to extreme temperatures and high levels of snowfall.
More often then not, you can take care of your home on your own. As long as you’re prepared, knowledgeable on what needs to be done, and thorough, you’ll avoid major problems. However, the untrained eye has been known to miss things and sometimes, it’s more economical to have a professional come in to be sure. Hiring a professional roofing company, like Advocate Roofing, gives you the peace of mind you need to get the job done right the first time around. All of our professionals have extensive levels of experience to provide you with a comprehensive inspection both from the interior and exterior of your roof. During the inspection, our professionals can help you with all of your winterization needs so you’re prepared for the harsh months to come. If you’d prefer to winterize your roof on your own, make sure you follow these tips and call a professional if you find any problems. Additionally, don’t forgo your yearly inspections to ensure your roof is in the best shape it can be.
When you’re ready to hire a dependable and experienced Milwaukee roofing contractor from Advocate Roofing, we’ll be ready. We guarantee all of our jobs are done with utmost professionalism and transparency. One thing we pride ourselves on is our integrity and high levels of customer service, so you know you’re getting exactly what you paid for without the hidden costs.
To contact an experienced roofing contractor for your Milwaukee home, please call (414) 386-3900. You can also reach us at our customer service hotline, 888-777-ROOF (7663).