Getting Ready For Winter Part 1: Fall Roof Work for Better Winter Weathering
It’s officially autumn in Grand Rapids, MI, and that means winter is not far behind. Is your roof ready for another West Michigan winter? In our three-part series, we’ll help local homeowners avoid the scourge of ice dams and other winter weather perils with some simple proactive tips and possible advance remediation. Don’t want to do it yourself? Contact Us for a Free Pre-Winter Roof Inspection, gutter cleaning services, gutter guards, or repair estimates!
1. Clean Your Gutters
The first, and simplest thing to do come autumn is to clean and guard your gutters. If you’re a Do-It-Yourself type, you can clean your gutters on most homes using a ladder, safety harness, and hose or hand-scoop. If you’re truly intrepid, you may use a power washer, but be careful you don’t apply too much force or cause unsafe conditions. After removing debris from your gutters, be certain to clean the area around your downspouts. You want to avoid a build-up of debris, ice, and snow here to prevent gutters from backing up during freezing rain and snowmelt events.
To make this job easier for NEXT year, consider “guarding” your gutters. Gutter guards help avoid blockage in gutters that ultimately can lead to ice dams.
2. If Able, Visually Inspect Roof Surface
While you’re cleaning your gutters, it’s a great time to look for the following problems that should be repaired before winter:
a) Missing Shingles – do not leave these for spring. Call us for a repair estimate but do not go through winter with missing shingles!
b) Flashing condition – look for areas where flashing is coming away from your chimney, soil stack, vent, or other roof projections. Flashing prevents these areas from leaking.
c) Shingle deterioration and/or organic growth – Moss and lichens are more than a cosmetic issue on many kinds of roofing materials – asphalt shingles, roll roofing, wood shingle roofs, wood shake roofs. By holding moisture against the roof surface, lichens and moss speed the wear of the asphalt shingle surface in freezing climates by increasing frost damage to the mineral granule coating on the shingles.
In some cases, a roof cleaning can gently remove the organic matter to extend the life of shingles. In other cases, shingles may be too fragile to withstand cleaning and may require replacement, preferably with algae-resistant asphalt shingles.
d) Hail Damage – If you’ve had a hail storm over the last year and haven’t had your roof inspected, now would be a good time to get a free roof inspection. Damage can be difficult to assess and document if you let it over-winter.
3. Next stop is your ATTIC
- Check for stains and evidence of past leaks
- Inspect your home for air leaks in the ceiling so warm air doesn’t leak into the attic. Doing so will not only prevent ice dams from forming, it will limit cold air drafts inside and reduce energy bills.
Read our next installment coming soon about Roof Ridge Vents and Air Flow to Avoid Ice Dams.