Watch for roof and gutter damage in winter

by | Jan 27, 2016 | Blog, Remodeling / Do-It-Yourself Projects

In winter, homeowners often concentrate on staying cozy inside. Meanwhile, it’s tempting to overlook the outside of the home and the steady assault the weather is making on the roof in particular. Winter months bring constant thawing and freezing that can damage important elements of the roof.

Homeowners should be particularly attentive to worn or poorly installed flashing, the pieces of metal and rubber boots that are used around areas such as chimneys, skylights, plumbing vents and other elements. The sun deteriorates the rubber and tar used to seal these vulnerable areas, and sloped roofs often leak at these points.

Before big storms, it’s wise to hire someone to inspect the flashing, to ensure that it’s in place and will prevent water seepage. “Flashing is also relatively inexpensive to replace, so replacing [or maintaining] it before a major storm can save you thousands in repairs,” suggests LGC Roofing.

Those with flat roofs should take care to maintain drains. These can become clogged with debris that impedes proper water drainage. “Conducting monthly to bi-monthly inspections of drains and terraced areas can help avoid the clogs that lead to more major problems,” says LGC.

Another common winter problem is the formation of ice dams in gutters that prevent melting snow from draining. There are many causes for this, including improperly cleaned gutters that clog up, allowing melting snow to accumulate and refreeze.

If this occurs, Angie’s List warns homeowners not to walk on a snow-covered roof. “Make sure you work from a ladder to access/fix the damage.”

Homeowners can chip at the ice, creating a small opening for the
water to flow through. They should not, however, use salt or calcium chloride to melt snow off the roof. “These chemicals are very corrosive,” says Angie’s List. “The runoff of these chemicals can also damage grass and plants.”

In general, the company advises hiring a reputable roofing contractor to take care of such issues, as “removing snow and ice dams from a roof is quite dangerous.”

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