It’s hard to admit, but deep down you know it…. winter is literally lurking around the corner (and on the ski slopes on the mountain behind my house this early in October!)
The scorching heat of summer has been replaced by leaves changing color, falling off their branches, and fluttering about our lawns (especially up here in Vermont). October brings us apple picking, apple cider drinking, carving jack-o-lanterns, Halloween, and the World Series.
October is a great time to take care of the roof over your head because, as rings true for most things, preventative maintenance is the key to longevity.
Eliminate winter surprises by following these 10 simple steps to ensure you AND your roof have an enjoyable winter.
Step 1: Check the lid
Sounds obvious, but before moving onto steps 2 thru 10, 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.
Step 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 doing the job they were designed for – carrying water away from your foundation.
Step 3: Say so long to overhanging tree limbs
Take a stroll around your home and check for any limbs or branches hanging over or brushing up against your roof or home. If you find any, trim them before winter sets in, and while you’re at it, look for any dead trees and get rid of them. Cleaning them up now will help keep your home and roof protected from costly damage that might result from falling limbs.
Step 4: Head up to the attic
Poor ventilation is a danger to your roof. Adequate ventilation is essential to proper roof function, and allows 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 and ice dams. It’s critical to properly ventilate (and insulate) attic spaces to avoid these pitfalls.
Step 5: Replace caulking
Caulking isn’t supposed to become wrinkled, crinkled or cracked. If you see any of that, replace it now.
Step 6: Check flashings
This one is pretty straightforward – secure any loose flashing and replace all that show signs of damage or leaks, paying special attention to areas of flashing around chimneys, plumbing vents, and other roof projections.
Step 7: Get your chimney inspected and cleaned
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
It’s extremely important to have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year (we burn wood 6-7 months of the year, so we actually clean and inspects ours more like 3 times). Inspections and regular cleanings will help ensure that everything will function as desired, and will also prevent fires. You will feel better, and sleep better, knowing you had it done.
Step 8: Install snow guards
Snow-capped homes seem almost picture-perfect in their charm, but snow is extremely heavy, and can come barreling off your roof suddenly and without warning, causing what’s known as a roof avalanche. A roof avalanche (what we also call a “solavalanche” on solar panels) can cause irreparable damage and harm to lower roof areas, gutters, plumbing vents, skylights, pets, cars, landscaping, and most importantly, people. A precautionary measure is the installation of snow guards.
Step 9: Keep an eye out for pests
Squirrels, raccoons, mice, and birds may see your home as a welcome shelter from the cold. While it would be nice to provide all of the animals of the world a respite, they can cause extensive (and expensive) damage to your home and to your roof. Look for any animal signs or for any areas that a cold animal might like to snuggle up in.
Step 10: Go inside….and look up
The last step in 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’ve caused it. 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).
Taking these necessary steps will bring you peace of mind in knowing that the most important part of your home is in good shape, and can continue protecting you and your family from the elements.
EcoFasten Solar® and Alpine SnowGuards® are industry leaders in the design, engineer and manufacture of watertight solar roof mounts and components, as well as snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, solar developers, racking system providers and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do.