Winter might not be here yet, but summer is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and it’s time to start thinking about your house and how well prepared it might be for the chilly months ahead. Ice, snow and runoff make roof problems a common occurrence during the winter months, so it’s best to take precautions sooner rather than later. Here’s how you can avoid three of the most common winter roof problems.
1. Flashing Leaks
Flashing is a piece of sheet metal used to prevent water damage over roof joints. Usually made of galvanized steel or aluminum, flashing is commonly found around chimneys, dormer windows and skylights. Though its purpose is to keep water out of these vulnerable areas, flashing can eventually fall prey to weathering and oxidation, weakening over time and allowing water to penetrate your roof.
- What To Do: If you feel comfortable doing so, you can climb up onto your roof with a ladder while it’s still warm out and inspect flashing for damage. It’s also a good idea to have your roof professionally inspected every two years. Flashing that shows signs of weakening, rust or deterioration should be replaced immediately; the cost of new flashing is far more affordable than dealing with water damage in the future.
When warm air meets a cold surface, condensation occurs, and when it gets old outside, your attic becomes a prime place for this to happen. Condensation can cause mold, mildew and water damage, so its best to avoid it if possible.
- What To Do: Your primary defense against attic condensation is insulation and ventilation. A well-insulated attic keeps heat inside your home and prevents the cold from penetrating the roof, which is what causes condensation. It can be hard to tell if your attic has enough insulation, but as a general rule, if you can see the ceiling joists, you could use some more.
3. Ice Dams
This is the big one. Ice dams are the winter roof problem that has the potential to cause the most damage and cost the most to clean up after. They occur when ice forms along the edge of your roof, preventing runoff from draining. When this happens, snowmelt on your roof has nowhere to go but through your shingles and into your home.
- What To Do: Before winter begins, it’s important that you clean out your gutters. Fallen leaves and other debris can block water flow, which is often what gets ice dams started. Once the snow flies, keep an eye on your roof for ice and excessive icicle buildup around the edges, and knock them down from ground level if possible (never climb up onto your roof in winter). Making sure your roof is well insulated can also prevent ice dams by reducing snowmelt caused by heat loss.