How to Prepare Your Roof for the Cold of Winter

Whether you like it or not, winter is just around the corner. An important, yet often overlooked, part of winter preparation is ensuring your home’s roofing system is ready for the cold. This is particularly important if you live in an area of the country that receives a substantial amount of snowfall.

It’s not difficult to inspect, clean and prepare most roofs for the winter, and it certainly can extend the lifespan of your roof. Have you ever experienced leaks or roof damage caused by ice damming or damaged shingles? These are preventable problems you can diagnose before the winter chill arrives. More on those issues later.

Cleanup and Inspection

Winterizing the roof starts with a thorough cleaning in mid-to-late fall. Clean the roof of fallen tree limbs and leaves. Use a push broom starting from the top of the roof and working your way down. Use caution when working on the roof. If you’re not comfortable with it, hire someone to do it for you.

While you’re on the roof, inspect it for any obvious damage, such as missing shingles or damaged flashing around chimneys. Minor repairs like these aren’t too difficult for do-it-yourselfers, but if you have zero knowledge of roof repair, it’s best to hire a roofing contractor to make the fixes – small repairs typically aren’t very expensive and it helps extend the lifespan of the roof.

Clean the gutters of leaves and other debris. It’s important to have clean-flowing gutters to help reduce ice build-up during the winter months.

Indoor Inspection

Once the rooftop and gutters cleaned and inspected, it’s time to head to the attic. Once in the attic, inspect the ceiling for signs of water damage. If you find water stains, it may be a sign of poor roofing insulation. This is bad for two reasons:

1. Poor roofing insulation leads to water leaks and weakens the roof.

2. Heat escapes from the interior of the home much easier, causing higher energy bills and potential for ice damming.

Replacing sections of the roof insulation requires that you remove the shingles in the area of the insulation damage. It’s probably a job best done by a roofing contractor because it’s important to get the job done right the first time.

Keep an Eye Out for Ice Damming

As the winter chill hits full swing, it’s important to periodically check the roof for ice damming. Ice dams form when heat from the inside of the house escapes through the roof due to poor or weak insulation. It melts the snow on the rooftop, which then runs down the roof and collects along obstructions or in the gutters. As this water freezes, it causes an ice dam.

Speaking with, they commented on the importance of keeping Ice dams under control – “Ice dams can cause significant damage to a roof due to the extra weight. To reduce this risk, clean snow from the rooftop using a long push broom or snow rake. Avoid using water or hot air to remove snow from the roof.”

Another safe way to remove snow from the rooftop is by using calcium or magnesium pellets. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), these pellets are effective at helping to melt snow from rooftops without causing damage to asphalt shingles. Some minor staining may result if you use sodium chloride tablets, so stick to magnesium chloride or calcium pellets.

These simple tips will help prolong the life of your roof if you live in the snowy north. If you live in the south and receive very little if any snow, it’s still important to keep you rooftop clean and free of debris before the chill of winter hits. Colder temperatures cause roofing material to become more brittle than normal. This makes it easier to damage. So, tree limbs and other debris should be removed from rooftops at least once per year to maximize the life of the roofing system.

Joseph Eitel is the web content writer for Hometown Roofing Contractors, the nation’s leading online provider of pre-screened, licensed roofing contractors.

3 thoughts on “How to Prepare Your Roof for the Cold of Winter

  1. Thanks for the article helping us remember the importance of maintenance on our roofs. We want to avoid as many hazards and accidents in our homes as much as possible.

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