Is Your Roof Ready for Winter Season?

Homeowner Learning

Author: Barbara Horwitz-Bennett | February 13, 2023

As the temperature starts to drop and you begin turning up your thermostat, you may want to ask: Is your roof ready for winter? Besides gathering the extra blankets and stocking up on hot cocoa, there are a few things you can do to prepare your home as the cold weather approaches.

A snowy roof with icicles dangling along the edge
By performing a fall maintenance inspection, homeowners can minimize wintertime roof damage.

This pre-winter prep is good for both your roof and your bank account. Winter-related claims, including hail and wind damage, account for more than half of all homeowners' insurance claims, as the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Ross Insurance Agency notes. The key to avoiding those claims is to inspect your roof for damage in the fall and shore up any needed repairs before the snowy season hits.

Start With a Fall Inspection

The experts recommend starting with the roofing material, whether it's shingles, tile or concrete, and looking for telltale signs of damage. Take time every autumn to inspect your roof for surface cracks, mildew and worn or missing material. Next, check the health of your gutters. Making sure that water is properly draining from your roof by checking all drains, scuppers, gutters and downspouts. In addition, clean all strainer baskets and inspect them for proper attachment.

If you find signs of a problem — even a small one — call your local roofing contractor to see if they can fit you in while the weather still allows for rooftop work.

Trained roofers will look at a roof's weakest points to inspect for any areas where snow and ice could intrude. These include the soffits, fascia and the seams of your roof, as well as penetrations such as attic vents, chimneys or skylights. Any missing caulking or weatherproofing should be repaired or replaced.

It's also important to pay attention to any damage caused by nesting birds, squirrels or other animals and to trim any branches hanging over the roof or bushes blocking the gutters.

Is Your Roof Ready for Winter Snow Removal?

Once the snow begins to fall, homeowners should already have a plan for safe snow removal. The most important thing to remember? Don't go climbing around on an icy, snowy roof! A small amount of snow will not damage the roof and does not need to be removed. If deep drifts of snow are threatening a cave-in, however, stand on the ground and remove them with a long rake or broom. If you can't remove snow safely yourself, a local roofer or snow removal expert can help.

Rounding out these winter preparation best practices, keep an eye on your home when the first few storms hit to make sure your roof is staying snug. Check for dents, tears or holes caused by hail, and make sure your chimney isn't letting melted ice and snow seep into your home. It's also a good idea to check the attic for stains or leaks, and consider adding insulation to prevent ice dams from forming by keeping the indoor heat evenly distributed.

You'll feel cozier inside this winter knowing your roof is in tip-top shape — or getting a professional to take a look if it isn't.

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