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The Big Chill

Tips to Help Your Roof Weather the Storm

The ice that causes havoc on the ground can also spell disaster for your home. At Gire Roofing, we get hundreds of calls about this every winter. Clogged gutters or poor insulation can create ice dams which can damage your roof. An ice dam forms when water from melting snow refreezes at the roofline and prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. The water starts to back up underneath the shingles and can eventually leak into your home.

How to Spot Potential Issues
Look at your roof to see if there's a buildup of ice and icicles. If you don't have gutter guards, then icicles may be a sign of ice dams. If you suspect there's an issue, look for water stains or moisture in the attic and along the exterior walls of your top floor.

How to Remove Ice and Snow

  • Ice Dams: Just because you have an ice dam doesn't mean the damage is done. So remove any ice dams promptly. If you can reach the roof safely, knock it off with a roof rake or cut a trench through the ice to drain standing water. There are also roof salt products that can help thaw the ice. Avoid using salt or calcium chloride as they’re very corrosive and can damage grass and plants. As with any product, make sure it's safe to use on your particular roof to ensure it doesn't destroy the shingles and invalidate your warranty. If you cannot safely remove the ice, hire out the work. A reputable roofing contractor can safely remove ice dams and inspect the roof and home for damage. Gire Roofing provides ice and snow removal for a minimal cost.
  • Icicles: If you have large icicles, you can try to safely knock them off from the ground, making sure not to stand beneath them. If there’s no water trapped behind the icicle when you remove it, you may not have an ice dam. Although, it may be wise to perform a further evaluation.
  • Snow Buildup: One option to remove snow is to use a roof rake from the ground. Take care to pull the rake down the slope of the roofline and never across the roof to avoid damaging shingles. If you cannot remove the snow safely from the ground, as with ice, call a contractor to help you out. Keep in mind the cost of snow removal is likely a lot less than what you’ll pay to fix water damage.

If you have an ice dam that you can't fix or if you already see the telltale signs of a water leak, call a licensed roofing contractor ASAP. Contrary to popular belief, you can repair and even install a roof in the winter time given the proper temperatures. In fact, it may be a good time to have roof work done. You will likely get better pricing and your choice of roofing contractors since it's a slower season.

Roofing Maintenance

3 Ways to Ready Your Roof for Winter

Take advantage of the mostly mild temperatures to do fall clean-up. Whether you’re a midwesterner where snow is a given or are a southerner where the white stuff would be a surprise, it’s important to do basic roofing maintenance before the arrival of winter weather. If you want to DIY, make sure you have the right equipment and follow the proper safety precautions, and when in doubt, hire professionals to do the job for you.

Get in the Gutters
When leaves and debris collect in your gutter system, it can clog up your downspouts. Throw in some rainy weather along with the added weight of wet leaves, and it could pull the gutter loose, causing damage to your roof, gutters, and siding. You can help prevent this problem by taking advantage of the seasonal weather to:

  • Clean out your gutter
  • Send water through the downspouts using your garden hose to flush out any leftovers
  • Use a chimney or pipe cleaning brush to clear the downspouts further
  • Rake up any debris you removed from the spouts or the gutters
  • Install gutter screens or guards to prevent any further collection of debris
  • Add spout extensions to push melting ice and snow farther away from your home

Inspect Your Roof
Like your gutters, even a small amount of debris can cause big issues by holding in moisture which could lead to rot or mold which break down roofing material. To avoid this, make sure the surface of your roof is free of leaves, pine needles, and other debris.

  • Do an initial inspection from the ground with binoculars. If you’re comfortable, have the proper equipment and follow proper safety procedures, inspect the roof up close for missing, cracked, curled or frayed shingles. Use extreme caution and if ever in doubt, hire professionals.
  • Use a leaf blower or push broom to clear the roof of fallen tree limbs and leaves. Start from the top of the roof and work your way down, paying attention to the valleys — they are the most vulnerable to water damage.
  • Check for damaged flashing around vent stacks, chimneys, and skylights. These areas are the typical trouble spots for a leak.
  • Make minor repairs. You may be able to tackle some yourself, but if you’re not knowledgeable about roofing, you’re better off hiring a roofing contractor. Small repairs typically aren’t very expensive and can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Check Your Interiors
The inside of your home can be the first to show signs of wear on the outside. Spending a half hour can help you spot potential issues before they become major problems.

  • Check your attic, upper crawlspace or upstairs ceiling for stains and leaks. If you find signs of water damage, check them again right after a heavy rain. If the area is damp, it’s important to get it repaired quickly to avoid further damage.
  • Add some extra insulation to your attic or upper crawlspace. Proper insulation is key to keeping your power bill in line and will help prevent the formation of ice dams on your roof.
  • If you get snow, compare your roof to the neighbors. If the snow disappears quickly, it means your attic has little or no insulation. If you see patches, it means those areas beneath need more insulation. If the snow stays on the roof for a while, it means your insulation is good (and will provide additional insulation since snow is an insulator).

Colder temps cause roofing material to become brittle and more prone to damage. So winterizing your roof with a thorough cleaning and maintenance check will help maximize the life of your roof. If you are considering DIY, make sure you have the proper equipment and follow appropriate safety guidelines. If not, hire a professional to do it for you. Annual maintenance is inexpensive and will save your time and money in the long run.


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