Winter Proof Your Roof: 5 Mandatory Maintenance Items

WinterProofHouse 300x200 Winter Proof Your Roof: 5 Mandatory Maintenance ItemsWhen the winter sky falls, many homeowners grimace with the thought of that horrible creaking sound that trees make when too much snow sits on their aged boughs.

Well, some things you just can’t plan for. But most things you can, and before your home is covered with a thick white blanket, make sure you’ve winter proofed your roof.

Take these steps, make sure you have these items, and you’ll be in good shape.

  1. First, a ladder. How else are you supposed to reach your roof? But don’t just settle for that old, rickety, 85-pound monster in your garage. Ladder technology has advanced to the point where they come lightweight and heavy duty, so you don’t have to blow a shoulder or worry about it collapsing under your holiday weight.Make sure it’s the correct size, too. Don’t get on the top rung of a ladder (always a no-no) you could have easily purchased one with an extra foot of height. Ladders are one thing that it’s OK to overestimate the size for, especially when you’ll be climbing it in winter or pre-winter conditions.
  1. Second, an ice pick or hammer with a sturdy adze to remove ice buildups in your gutters or points on your roof where water flows converge. Your roof is designed to push water away, so don’t block its natural flow. This is more of a reactionary measure than a proactive one, but you wouldn’t get into your car without your window scraper, and this is the same concept. Those heated windows can only do so much.You can probably get away with using a thick, durable plastic ice pick to knock away all but the most Alaskan ice buildups. A metal pick will probably damage your roof tiles to the point where any winter proofing you do will become moot. Don’t swing too hard, Hercules, just enough to get the ice away.
  1. Speaking of heating elements, new technology may allow homeowners to prevent ice buildups on their roofs by installing heated cables in the gutters. This largely removes the need of that ice pick, but with excessive cold the heated cables may not be able to keep up. However, you can even research installing heating elements on your roof tiles to prevent a single snowflake from collecting. This is extremely helpful in areas up north where snowfalls are suffocating. Just be mindful that the melted snow (water!) has to go somewhere, and if you heat your roof you’ll have to heat the gutters too. And keep an extra bag of salt by the front door walkway.
  1. Once the first winter frost has hit, it’s always a good idea to salt any cement surfaceyou’re about to place a ladder  on. A hidden ice patch with a ladder on top of it doesn’t spell out good things for the person on that ladder, and it’s one of those easily-avoided accidents.However, salt can wear away rock, including cement, but there are other options to prevent slipping, like rubber mats. Or, simply chip the ice away.
  1. Because melting water can refreeze on the siding of your home, you should look into installing shields similar to the kind that keep squirrels from birdfeeders. Vents on your exterior walls, such as the ones for a dryer or an HVAC system, can collect that cold water. When water freezes, it expands (it is a very peculiar molecule), and this alone can damage both wood and metal. You may not even realize it until you’ve got leaks indoors, but now you need a major overhaul in your structure to close the gaps that were opened by that freezing water.

It’s important to remember that safety is the most important thing. Don’t head out in the middle of a storm to try to knock excess snow or ice off your roof; the potential for harm to yourself or others outweighs the benefits of knocking a few inches to the ground. Be prepared ahead of time and sit snugly inside with peace of mind.

“Winter Home” Photo Credit: ungard

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