Getting ready ahead of time for the winter months is the best way to ensure that you don’t run into difficulties and allow your home to develop issues which could be expensive and time consuming to repair.
To make sure that your home is warm, safe and dry all winter long, spend some time making sure that your roof is ready for whatever the season brings.
1. Carry Out An Inspection
It’s very possible to do this yourself by using a ladder and getting up onto your roof to visibly inspect the area. Always make sure that you do this with someone else or tell someone what you are doing.
You could also consider employing a professional company to inspect your roof for you and to write a detailed report about its condition and any repairs that they would recommend.
2. Write A Checklist
Getting a checklist together of everything you need to monitor in terms of your roof means that you can keep track of exactly what you need to focus on.
Keeping the same checklist for continuous years will be useful as you can see when jobs were last done – always remember to date when you carried out work so you’ll have a rough idea when it needs redoing.
3. Clean Out Gutters
During winter, there’s a much higher chance of pressure on your gutters – whether it’s from heavy rain, snow or ice, or from more debris such as leaves blocking it up. Always make sure that you keep your gutters clean so that water can flow freely through them.
Be aware of water reaching your basement or going down walls as this could be a sign that the gutters on your roof aren’t working effectively.
4. Look Around Your Roof
The area around your roof is most likely to contain the biggest threats to your roof. If there are large trees growing nearby, always make sure that these are pruned back before winter – this could stop branches falling on your roof and causing damage in the colder months.
Try to spot any potential hazards to your roof before the cold weather sets in so that you can use the summer and autumn months to fix them properly.
5. Repair Loose Shingles
If you have shingles on your roof, you need to be really conscious of their condition – ideally before winter arrives. Did you know that both snow and ice can severely add to the speed at which shingles deteriorate so it’s really important to ensure that they’re in a good state.
Whilst it can be tempting to ignore the occasional loose shingle, it will be far more beneficial to fix it when you see it rather than face potentially replacing your entire roof.
6. Get Things Organized
If you are worried about your roof and how it’ll withstand the pressures of winter, make sure that you have everything you need for repairs ready and waiting. There’s nothing worse than a long delay to a roof that needs repairing – especially if the weather has deteriorated and there’s the risk of the elements intruding on your cosy home.
7. Check Your Chimney
This is a really important thing to do if your home has a chimney. You need to check the masonry around the chimney as this can often be severely affected by cold weather and leaks may appear without you noticing. Take the time to check your chimney as part of your pre winter preparation and you’ll be more likely to avoid issues developing when it’s cold and damp.
8. Always Remove Leaves
Get to know the shape of your roof. If your roof is peaked then you may be lucky and avoid a build-up of leaves. Flat roofs or roofs that are surrounded by lots of trees or landscaping will be much more likely to have leaves falling on them and remaining there. These must be removed regularly – otherwise they can trap moisture as they decompose which then damages your roof.
9. Get The Right Tools
It’s great that you’re getting into the habit of checking your roof and removing leaves. However you need to use the right tools to do this. Never use a pressure washer as this can force water under the shingles of your roof and is generally too strong for roof materials. Instead, you can use a leaf blower to remove dry leaves or a garden hose to remove wet ones that won’t budge.
10. Watch Out For Moss
Moss can often look pretty – but you really don’t want to encourage it to grow on your roof. You’ll want to plan its removal the minute you see it starting to grow on your roof as it can quickly get out of control. If caught early enough, moss can simply be swept off.
11. Consider Zinc Strips
A clean roof can be maintained with zinc strips which help to deter moss from growing on the roof. Strips are usually installed by a roofer and it’s a more environmentally friendly option than using pesticide. The runoff from zinc strips after rain helps to inhibit the growth of mould – ideal, but be careful if you live near a stream or water ( you don’t want the runoff to harm any aquatic life)
12. Be Alert
Use all of your senses when it comes to keeping your roof in good condition and ready for winter. A visual inspection is great – you can always look for things like missing or loose shingles, or damaged flashing. However you can always listen to your roof – ask yourself whether you can hear scurrying in the roof or if it sounds like there are leaks during certain weather conditions.
13. Treat Ice Carefully
It’s tempting to want to peel or pry off ice that has formed after a storm. Be aware though that this can damage your roof. Instead, try to dislodge any snow before it settles into ice – always make sure it’s cleared within at least a metre of the gutters. Using a rake with a long handle is useful for shifting the snow especially if you’re working up high.
14. Layer Up On Insulation
It’s not just the outside of your roof you have to worry about in preparation for winter. You should always make sure that your home is adequately insulated as if this isn’t correctly done, it can really increase the chance of ice blocks on the roof or further issues developing. Ask a professional roofer if you’re unsure of the best insulation material for your home.
15. Avoid Frozen Pipes
Pipes also need to be well insulated. Your roof can’t function on its own and it does rely on a whole system of pipes and guttering, especially during winter. Always make sure that exterior pipes are fully insulated so that they don’t freeze during cold spells and that water can always flow effectively away from your roof.
16. Protect Solar Panels
When you’re getting your roof ready for winter, think about whether or not your solar panels (if you have them) are well protected. Panels can be pretty expensive to replace if they’re damaged so you’ll want to keep them sheltered from any extreme weather conditions that are likely to roll in.
17. Check And Recheck Flashing
It’s so easy for flashing to come loose so you need to continually check it to help to avoid leaks. If you want a second opinion, check it yourself first then ask a friend or a professional roofing company to assess it too – sometimes a second pair of eyes can save you a huge amount of time, money and stress.
18. Know Your Materials
Different roof materials have different qualities and different needs. If you’ve got shingles on your roof or tiles, it’ll require different winter preparation to metal roofs. Always make sure you’re familiar with your roof and what it needs to survive the winter months.
19. Replace Sealant
Be aware of any stacks or antennas on your roof. You need to always make sure that the sealant around the base of features like these is not cracked or worn as this can lead to leaks and bigger issues developing.
20. Check Lead Flashing For Cracks
Lead can deteriorate over time so it’s always worth bearing this in mind when carrying out roof inspections. Pay extra attention to flashing and check for cracks on a regular basis. Don’t ever ignore a small crack as the chances are this will get larger and could develop into a real issue.
21. Keep Windows Well Maintained
Think of your home as an entire system. The efficiency of its energy flow doesn’t just depend on a strong roof – instead it relies heavily on well-maintained windows. Watch for cracks around the windows developing and always take action if you notice a draught creeping in around window fittings.
22. Get Rid Of Pests
In Australia, there are all sorts of pests which like to roam about on roofs. In the Winter months, animals and pests will often seek out roofs as they provide a warm spot to nest or spend time on. Make sure that pests aren’t making a home on your roof – you can often see evidence of this from animal droppings, or you may even be able to hear them from inside your house.
23. Look At Energy Bills
Keep an eye on your energy bills. Have a look at the price you paid for energy last winter, and keep a track of whether it increases dramatically this year. This could be a sign that your roof is not working efficiently or isn’t fully prepared for the colder weather. A well insulated home with a properly functioning roof can help save on energy bills.
24. React Quickly
Any changes to your roof should be dealt with quickly. Don’t be tempted to leave anything you spot at the end of summer or the middle of autumn – react quickly in preparing your roof for winter. Even if you come across unexpected issues, treat them as soon as you can to avoid larger problems developing.
25. Enjoy The Winter
Once you’ve made sure your roof is fully prepared for winter, you can sit back and enjoy keeping cosy and warm in your home. Being vigilant and keeping an eye on any potential issues will help to ensure that you and your home survive the winter healthy and strong.