As temperatures drop across the country homeowners in areas prone to freezing should be aware of several tips to prevent winter roof leaks yourself.
As water expands and contracts with a deep freeze, your roof shingles and flashing are vulnerable to damage unless you take precautions before and during the long winter.
Here’s 5 Tips To Prevent Winter Roof Leaks
Tip 1: Winterize Plumbing
A leak in the attic may appear as it is from the roof, but neglecting any exposed pipes or spigots in this area leads to water leaks in the home. Freezing temperatures in the attic contribute to pipes bursting. Inspect the attic, and cover any visible pipes with fiberglass insulation, foam rubber sleeves or heating tape. Take a look outside while you are winterizing pipes, and remove any garden hoses from the faucets. Expansion and contraction during freezing leads to broken spigots.
If you leave the home over the winter, such as a vacation property, call a plumber to winterize the home. It is extremely expensive to leave the heat on over an entire season to prevent the home from freezing. Running a trickle of water through the plumbing all winter contributes to water waste and a high bill as well. Professional plumbers place anti-freeze in the pipes after removing all the water from pipes, sinks and toilets. With this preventive measure, your vacation home does not have any threat of floods from frozen pipes that may appear like a roof leak.
Tip 2: Strategic Pruning
Nearby trees provide shade in the summer and an insulating effect in the winter, but limbs that hang directly over your home are prime for removal. If the branch breaks, for example, your roof may suffer severe damage. The debris dropping from the tree contributes to roof damage through ice dams as well. Before winter arrives, prune any overhanging branches above the roof. Along with a better aesthetic, your roof remains clear of debris that contributes to roof leaks and interior water damage.
Tip 3: Proper Insulation
Consider insulating both the garage and attic. Garages are notorious for being poorly constructed. Insulation hidden behind drywall is typically left out to provide more storage space and less cost during the home’s sale. Ceiling beams are exposed with no insulation at the roof level. Keeping the garage at a consistent temperature above freezing allows the roof to have a steady temperature across its entire structure. You prevent ice dams and uneven melting or freezing, contributing to less roof leaks into the home.
To avoid uneven roof heating and cooling that leads to leaks, add attic insulation. Similar to a pot of boiling water, interior heat rises and releases through roof seams or cracks. Insulating the attic traps the heat in the home and keeps the roof at a steady, outdoor temperature. Snow does not melt unevenly as you reduce the chances of roof leaks into the attic. If you are uncomfortable with any insulation or drywall installation processes, it is best to hire a contractor to properly perform the job.
Tip 4: Cleanliness
Autumn leaves often cover roofs and attached rain gutters. As a winter precaution, remove any debris from both the roof and gutters, especially before an impending snow or ice storm. Debris across the roof provides a resting area for ice and melting snow, leading to possible water leaks into the attic space. A phenomenon, called ice dams, occurs across the roof’s peak where it is warmed from interior heat. As snow melts at the peak, it slowly moves down the roof and refreezes as it reaches the roof edges and gutters. Dirty gutters create a formidable dam, combining debris and ice to stop any water from flowing off the roof. Water remains trapped along these newly iced areas and seeps into the roof as a damaging leak.
Tip 5: More Tricks For Winter Roof Leaks
Reduce the weight on your roof by physically raking the snow off of the home after a storm. Keep the tines clear of the rain gutters, however. You do not want to accidentally knock them away from the flashing. Excess snow accumulation leads to weak points on the roof, allowing water to slowly seep under shingles and into the attic. Keep the roof relatively clear of snow for a leak-free home.
Add deicing cables to your roof in the summer or fall. These specialized cables warm up when necessary, effectively melting snow and ice until it falls off of roofs. With clean functional gutters, snow, water and ice moves quickly onto the ground and away from the home.
Keeping your home well-maintained both before and during the winter contributes to a leak-free structure. Take a look at your home today to evaluate the best repairs for your family.