Winter brings with it storms and extreme temperature differentials. These can lead to premature failure of your roof and bring with it a big headache that could have been avoided.
Each year, there are 4 simple steps you can take to make sure your roof is in prime condition to avoid winter damage.
1. Clean gutters and valleys of debris
If your gutters get too full of debris, they trap water that can run up under the bottom row of shingles. This can lead to leaks and rotting out of the wood on the overhangs or in the house.
Most excess debris catches in the gutters and downspouts, but some can catch on the roof valleys. Since valleys are one of the most prone to leaking parts of any roof, you want to make sure you don’t get clutter buildup in them.
The best method to cleaning these is with gloved hand. Never use sharp tools or pressure washer. You don’t want to disrupt the shingles. Don’t lift them or bend them or agitate them. You only want to get debris off the shingles, and instead if granules are coming off too, that’s a bad sign because granules are the first layer of essential protection for shingles.
2. Trim overhanging tree branches
Branches close enough to your roof can be a source of debris as well as can lead to severe damage from falling. It’s best to trim branches of trees that contribute to a lot of debris even though you can’t get them all. If there is one or two big trees that contribute to most of the debris on your roof, you may want to consider trimming them.
Damage from falling branches or entire trees can be a huge problem, and they’re common occurrences in western Washington State. It’s not everyday or even every year weather that is the problem, but the big storms that come once a decade or even more infrequently. Those storms can knock big branches off of trees or trees themselves down that are otherwise healthy. If you have any nearby trees that would be a problem in a big storm, you’ll want to keep them trimmed or remove them entirely.
3. Inspect attic for insulation
If your attic isn’t properly insulated, the biggest problems arise during the cold months. This is because of the temperature differential between inside and outside. Condensation occurs on surfaces that are colder than ambient air, and it can lead to water damage in the attic.
To solve this problem, you want your attic to be insulated such that it has adequate airflow while keeping warm air inside your living space in the house.
The main problem arises because insulation is sometimes not placed properly, thereby blocking intake vents near the overhangs. If yours are blocked, it can lead to the attic keeping a much higher temperature than the outside ambient air, which can lead to moisture buildup on the wood substrate of the roof. This can rot it from the inside out.
Typically, you want to check if insulation is blocking soffit vents any time that anybody gets in the attic. Many people have been known to push insulation around and accidentally block airflow.
4. Inspect roof for damage and missing components
This is good practice at any time, but is especially important during the winter because of all the rain and storms. Roof problems often lead to leaks after a threshold of water or pressure has hit them, so during the summer there may just not be enough rain or wind to make what is a damaged part of roofing lead to a leak. But during the winter, with a lot of rain and wind, the problem can become very prominent.
You want to look for any missing shingles, vents, or flashing. Check the shingles as well for wear and tear. If they’re curling, balding, or you see stringy-looking fiberglass, you’ll want to have a professional take a look at it.
If you live in the South Puget Sound area and notice any potential problems with your roof, please give us a call at 253.445.8950 or fill out our quick estimate form. Our estimates are completely free and thorough.