Winterizing Your Roof

Roof maintenance is both an outdoor and indoor job and should be done seasonally. Before harsh winter weather or the rainy season sets in is an ideal time to make sure your roof is in sound shape.

Outdoor Maintenance

  • Trim back overgrown vegetation.
  • Clean all debris off the roof and inside the gutters and hose down.
  • Spray water inside clogged gutters to clear them. Be careful - the hose will jam from suction if it is placed inside the drain.
  • Remove crinkled caulking and roofing cement and reapply.
  • Check flashing (metal areas) for warps and holes. Secure any loose flashing to the siding or other surface and reapply roofing cement.
  • Secure loose asphalt shingles with roofing cement.

Indoor Maintenance

  • Check roof vents and clear them of any obstructions. Roof vents prevent heat and moisture from building up in your attic and causing damage to the roof and support beams.
  • Install additional vents to prevent ice damming (icicle formation). You should have 1 square foot each of intake and exhaust ventilation for each 300 square feet of attic space.
  • Install attic insulation to prevent icing.
  • Inspect ceiling and dry wall from the baseboards up. If you see or feel moisture and/or discolored paint, your roof could have a leak.

Quick Fixes for Leaks

Emergencies call for quick fixes. But remember that these fixes are interim measures; you'll still need to provide a permanent remedy. The most likely spot for a leak is where the roof meets a chimney, exhaust piping or structural interfaces. After you've found the suspicious spot, follow these suggestions:

  • If you can see the leak in your attic, attach a string to the leak's location and place a bucket underneath to catch water. Make sure to empty the bucket before it overflows.
  • For small holes in the shingles or warps where the metal flashing meets another part of the roof or house, use some cold applied plastic cement, first making sure the area of the roof you are repairing is free of dust and debris.
  • Patch a damaged shingle with a piece of metal flashing by placing it under the damaged area.

Choosing a Professional Roofer

What if your roof is in such bad shape that you need to call someone right away? Keep in mind the following when choosing a roofing contractor:

  • Insist on a written proposal from a licensed, bonded professional.
  • Get everything in writing: a payment schedule; scope of work; start and end dates of work; what happens in case of schedule overruns. Make sure the contract addresses all the concerns you have.
  • Make sure the roofer has agreements from manufacturers to apply special materials.
  • Make sure contractors offer both a contractor's warranty for installation and manufacturer's warranties for materials.
  • Ask for references and contact them.

If you need a new roof, research any new roofing options that have become available since your roof was last done.